Major Chinese online retailers including, TMall, and Pinduoduo have initiated another round of substantial discounts on Apple's iPhone 15, merely five months post its launch. This development marks a continuation of the discounting trend observed since October, underscoring Apple's challenges in maintaining sales momentum in the competitive Chinese market. Even the preceding iPhone 14 Pro model hasn't been spared, witnessing discounts of up to 10%.

Historically, Apple has strategically permitted select partner vendors in China to offer discounts as a tactic to invigorate demand. The timing of the iPhone 15's release coincided with a period of decelerated sales for Apple in China, a market where domestic giants like Huawei and Xiaomi are tightening the competitive noose. In a move uncharacteristic of Apple, the company directly offered discounts on iPhones through its official channels last month, cutting prices by up to 500 yuan.

The recent discounts encompass all iPhone 15 series models, with some variants available at reductions up to 1,300 yuan ($180.68) off the standard retail price. Although the online retailers have framed these discounts as part of the International Women's Day celebrations on March 8, the duration of these promotions remains unspecified. Requests for comments from Apple and the involved retailers have yet to receive responses.

This "value for money" skirmish among retailers is emblematic of the broader consumer belt-tightening in response to the economic slowdown, with discounting becoming a focal point during key shopping events. Notably, Pinduoduo's platform lists the 128GB iPhone 15 at a price 1,411 yuan lower than Apple's, while offers the 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max at an 1,100 yuan discount from Apple's store price.

This prolonged slump in demand for the iPhone 15 in China is indicative of broader market challenges, including the economic headwinds sweeping the nation and the unexpected resurgence of Huawei's smartphone segment. According to IDC's Will Wong, Apple's market share in China experienced a roughly 10% year-on-year decline in January, while Huawei's sales surged, showcasing a remarkable recovery.

Following the Lunar New Year, these discounts have surfaced, succeeding the unusual price reductions on Apple's website in January. Apple's sales in China witnessed a 13% decline to $20.8 billion in the quarter ending December, significantly missing the $23.5 billion forecast by analysts and marking Apple's weakest performance in the region for that period in recent years.

According to Counterpoint Research's Ivan Lam, Apple's decision to offer promotional pricing through third-party channels ahead of International Women's Day is an attempt to stimulate iPhone sales in the Chinese market, which are increasingly reliant on promotional strategies to drive demand.