Date
5 December 2019
Smartphones were among the top-selling products on Alibaba’s online platform during the Double 11 festival this year. Photo: Reuters
Smartphones were among the top-selling products on Alibaba’s online platform during the Double 11 festival this year. Photo: Reuters

Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi reap big on Singles’ Day

Alibaba Group has once again notched a big success on Singles’ Day, with total sales hitting a new high at 268.4 billion yuan (US$38.4 billion) during the 24-hour online shopping festival on Monday. Among the key products that contributed to a 26 percent surge in transactions value during the annual event were smartphones, as almost all leading brands introduced attractive offers.

Apple emerged as a big winner in the shopping extravaganza in China, providing welcome relief for the company after it was beset with slowing global growth in iPhone sales in the recent past. The US tech giant saw its newly launched iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro series become two of the top-selling products during Singles’ Day. The entry-level iPhone 11 was the bestseller among all iPhone models.

According to media reports, Apple sold more than a million units of iPhone 11 during the event. The best-selling iPhone 11 also helped draw shoppers’ attention to other models including iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Pro. These three models figured in the top ten on the best-selling league in the smartphone sector.

Apple was among 15 brands overall on the Alibaba platform that reaped over 1 billion yuan in sales, a list that includes rivals Huawei and Xiaomi as well as other consumer big names such as Nike.  

Apple has been a leader in terms of the transaction amount in the Singles Day event as its product prices are much higher compared to local Chinese smartphone brands. This year, Apple’s sales were seven times last year’s figure in the first ten minutes of the event. In terms of shipment units, Apple was just behind Huawei and ranked the second in the table, beating Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO and other Chinese brands.

Some industry watchers believe a reworked pricing strategy helped Apple lure a large group of Chinese smartphone users to the iPhone 11. Chinese consumers have had the iPhone on their wish list for many years but prices of the previous models were deemed too expensive, prompting the people to opt for cheaper domestic alternatives. But this year, the iPhone 11 model was cheaper than the top smartphone model of Huawei — the Mate 30 Pro. Apparently, that led many consumers into arriving at a decision to jump onto the Apple bandwagon.

While Apple successfully drove its sales through attractive price cuts, Huawei and its sub-brand Honor launched a multi-model strategy to tap the attention of consumers during the 24-hour event. Huawei and Honor were ranked first and second during the Singles Day event. 

Honor brand was positioned to tap the mass market segment to boost shipment units, while Huawei targeted high-end users who sought the most advanced specifications. Huawei Mate 30 5G smartphones were among the best-selling 5G devices in the market.

JD.com, Alibaba’s principal Chinese e-commerce rival, said its platform sold 20 times more 5G smartphones in the first ten days of November compared to previous months.

Some market watchers attribute Huawei’s sales boost, in part, to nationalistic sentiments, saying Chinese consumers may have wanted to show their support for the firm as it had been hit by US sanctions. Apart from that, the Chinese telecoms equipment group got a big lift from affordable devices from its sub-brand Honor.

Xiaomi, which claimed to be the best smartphone seller in the event in the past few years, said it sold 1.05 million smartphones on all platforms during the Singles’ Day, helped by its newly launched model Xiaomi CC9 Pro camera phone with a 100-megapixel camera sensor, the highest resolution sensor in the market.

The company’s sales on Alibaba’s Tmall store broke the billion-yuan mark one hour after the online festival kicked off. Xiaomi booked revenue of 6.1 billion yuan across all platforms during the event, marking a 17 percent increase from last year. However, the company failed to have any model in the top-10 best-selling smartphone list this year.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that Xiaomi sold more than 5.55 million units of smart home products during the November 11 festival, representing a massive 148 percent jump from last year.

What this suggests is that Xiaomi has come quite a long way in business diversification, moving beyond smartphones and establishing itself quite well in smart gadgets and home appliances such as televisions, refrigerators and ovens.

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RC

EJ Insight writer