Mobile phone dealers have a difficult winter, can the iPhone 14 save the market?

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Text / Yin Taibai

Source: Tankeshen Technology (ID:TKshenkeji)

In the early morning of September 8, the high-profile iPhone 14 series officially met with you. This new series has 4 products, with smaller bangs, “pill screen”, A16 chip, longer battery life, 48 million pixels, optical Shake… Everyone expects that this series will bring new highlights and save everyone’s “sluggish desire to change mobile phones”, and among them, mobile phone dealers are most eagerly looking forward to it.

As early as the eve of the launch of the iPhone 14 series, Huang Wenwei, a smartphone dealer, began to get busy. While he paid a deposit to an Apple agent to ensure sufficient supply of new Apple products, he also prepared a small amount of the iPhone 13 series in stock.

“After the release of the iPhone 14 series, in order to free up more market space, Apple will often remove the iPhone 13 Pro version from the shelves, while the iPhone 13 standard version may be reduced in price, and there will be a short wave of sales of the iPhone 13 series at that time. Small climax.” Based on past experience, Huang Wenwei was ready with both hands.

Zheng Weiqiang, who owns three comprehensive mobile phone stores in downtown Jinan, is also actively stocking up. He also placed an Apple counter in a prominent position in the store. He learned from other channel dealers that many dealers have put their main funds on Apple this year. On the new product, it is only for “gambling a chance of life”.

Before that, Zheng Weiqiang mainly sold mid-to-low-end models of OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi and Honor. Although the profit margin was limited, the sales volume was good enough to support the operation and expenses of the three stores. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the sales of the three stores have been shrinking. In April 2021, due to a cliff-like drop of nearly 80% in sales of one of the stores, which could not be covered for several months, Zheng Weiqiang had no choice but to close the store. .

Fortunately, the existential crisis of the other two stores was temporarily lifted by the iPhone 13 series.

On September 17, 2021, after the iPhone 13 series opened for pre-sale, Zheng Weiqiang got a batch of stock, “I hesitated when ordering, because considering that the store mainly sells cost-effective models, if the iPhone 13 series cannot be sold, it will lead to inventory The backlog will have a huge impact on store operations.”

However, the overly popular sales situation quickly dispelled Zheng Weiqiang’s concerns. After the pre-sale of the iPhone 13 series was launched, e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and were sold out in one second, and had to replenish the goods overnight, and Apple’s official website was due to excessive traffic. High collapse directly, there are sales channels and even a premium of 1,500 yuan is still swept away by consumers.

The popularity of the iPhone 13 series was finally reflected in the financial report. In the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, Apple’s quarterly revenue increased by 11.22% and 8.59% year-on-year, respectively.

However, the iPhone 13 series cannot completely relieve the existential crisis of the store. After the popularity of the iPhone 13 series dropped, the number of people in the store decreased day by day, and the cash flow was at risk. Zheng Weiqiang was more and more expecting that the iPhone 14 series would bring about another turnaround. “Otherwise, we will close the two stores and find another way out.”

On the flip side of what phone dealers are pinning their hopes on in Apple’s new products, smartphone sales in China have fallen back to levels last seen a decade ago.

In the first half of 2022, China’s overall smartphone shipments fell by 21.7% year-on-year, and domestic brand mobile phone shipments fell by 25.9% year-on-year, almost the worst performance in the past decade. “The smartphone market has been in a drought for a long time, just waiting for the iPhone The 14 series can bring a heavy rain.” Huang Wenwei shook his head helplessly.

Similar to Zheng Weiqiang’s situation, Huang Wenwei’s stall business in Cyber ​​City is also struggling.

In the summer of 2020, Huang Wenwei was able to sell more than 50 smartphones per month, but in the summer of 2022, nearly four-fifths of the sales disappeared. I’m going out to deliver food part-time.”

“Summer vacation was originally a small peak season for the smartphone industry, but this year’s summer vacation is even more off-season than the off-season in previous years. No matter how strong the promotion is, it will not help.” Huang Wenwei sighed, although the outdoor temperature was as high as 40 ℃, but he still felt A chill came.

“I also hope to see the rise of domestic smartphone manufacturers, but the reality is that most channel merchants can only rely on Apple to make money.” Huang Wenwei said.

This is indeed the case. According to’s 6.18 self-operated mobile phone sales rankings, the iPhone 13 ranked first with a sales volume of 2.8243 million units, while the second and third places were the Redmi K50 and Xiaomi 12X. Among them, the Redmi K50’s The sales volume was only 341,300 units, less than one-eighth of the former’s sales volume.

Yang Kaixuan, a person in the smartphone supply chain, told Tankeshen Technology that there are at least two problems behind the fact that distributors are holding Apple’s thighs: First, the single-machine profit of domestic smartphones is too low, only one-fifth of the iPhone’s. ; Second, domestic smartphone manufacturers have not really gained a firm foothold in the high-end market, and Apple is still thriving.

The mobile phone market is waiting for “fruit” to come

At Apple’s autumn new product launch event, Cook brought four models of the iPhone 14 series, including iPhone 14 (6.1 inches), iPhone 14 Plus (6.7 inches), iPhone 14 Pro (6.1 inches) and iPhone 14 Pro Max ( 6.7 inches).

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are still designed with Liu Haiping, dual-camera lenses on the back, and equipped with an A15 processor; the iPhone 14 Pro is equipped with an A16 bionic chip built with a new 4nm process. “This is the fastest smartphone chip ever made,” Apple said.

In addition, the iPhone 14 will be released on September 16 with a starting price of 5,999 yuan; the iPhone 14 Plus will be released on October 7 with a starting price of 6,999 yuan; the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max will be released on September 16, with the starting prices respectively It is 7999 yuan and 8999 yuan.

Yang Kaixuan also confirmed to ‘Tankeshen Technology’ that retailers have received relevant notices that the iPhone 14 series will be officially released on September 16, earlier than in previous years. The launch of the iPhone 14 series has set a new record for quarterly revenue.”

Specifically, the iPhone 14 Pro uses the same super-ceramic panel as the previous generation, and the new purple color replaces the original Yuanfeng blue. The most important upgrade is to replace the 5-year-old “Liu Haiping” with “Smart Island”, commonly known as “Pill Screen”.

Li Yang, a senior “fruit fan”, has been paying attention to the news and trends of Apple’s new products. “The biggest highlight of the iPhone 14 series is the screen, imaging system and chip. From this year onwards, the gap between the Pro version and the standard version will widen. In the future, the standard version will focus on basic configuration and ordinary users, while the Pro version will be biased towards professional users who have higher requirements for performance and imaging systems.”

Li Yang also believes that judging from the current feedback, the sales of the iPhone 14 series will surpass that of the previous generation. “According to past experience, the sales of models with major breakthroughs in appearance design in the past dynasties often exceed expectations, such as the iPhone. 6 Plus, iPhone X.”

The forecast results given by component suppliers and electronic manufacturing service providers show that in the second half of 2022, the shipment of the iPhone 14 series will be about 100 million units. In addition, according to the research team of Credit Suisse’s Asian semiconductor industry, the overall iPhone shipments in 2022 will increase by 2% year-on-year.

According to ‘Take Deep Technology’ previously learned, Apple is indeed actively preparing for the new series.

On the one hand, Apple’s supply chain companies are stepping up their efforts. For example, the foundry factories Foxconn, Hon Hai, Pegatron, Dafeng, etc. are all expanding the scale of recruitment. Among them, Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant has offered favorable conditions for rework fees of 10,000 yuan. Parts suppliers BOE, Sunny Optical, and Lens Technology are also in full swing to implement production plans;

On the other hand, Apple is still expanding the list of companies in the Apple supply chain. On the eve of the launch of Apple’s new products, the components of Shengbang shares passed the Apple quality certification. According to people familiar with the matter, the two models of the Pro version are expected to use Shengbang shares. Provided power management chip.

At the same time, Apple also announced a rare announcement that some products can enjoy discounts ranging from 150-600 yuan. In the past, Apple generally lowered the price of old models after new models were launched, so Apple’s opposite behavior was interpreted by the outside world as “preparing for a new round of sales boom”.

There are various indications that the resources Apple has invested in the iPhone 14 series are proportional to expectations, and will this new product be able to make consumers pay for it and ultimately boost Apple’s revenue this year?

Are consumers willing to pay for the iPhone?

The iPhone has a large number of loyal fans. Whenever Apple’s new products are released, many “fruit fans” are often snapped up. This year, although consumers are still willing to pay for the iPhone, the situation seems to have undergone some subtle changes.

A person from a Yiwei authorized store told ‘Tankeshen Technology’, “On the eve of the launch of the iPhone 14 series, a considerable number of consumers plan to buy the previous generation models with higher cost performance, and consumers inquire about the iPhone 13 or even the iPhone 13 almost every day. The strength of the iPhone 12 price cut, and even in the days when Apple’s official website announced the price cut, the iPhone 13 also ushered in a wave of sales peaks, which were less common in previous years.”

Huang Wenwei has long noticed the change. “After the iPhone 13 series was released last year, a lot of iPhone 12 series were sold.” A batch of stock.

In Huang Wenwei’s view, there are three reasons behind consumers’ reverse replacement behavior. One is that many consumers are controlling unnecessary expenditures due to the repeated impact of the new crown epidemic; the other is that the innovation of smartphones is obviously insufficient and differentiated It is also not obvious; third, the performance of smartphones is generally too high, and smartphones two years ago can still meet daily needs.

Figure / Vision China, based on RF protocol Figure / Vision China, based on RF protocol

Huang Wenwei’s point of view was also recognized by Li Yang, “The 14th generation of iPhone has been launched, but frankly speaking, the difference between each generation of iPhone in the past three years is actually not big, even the iPhone X released in September 2017, It’s also enough to live, work, study and play.”

According to statistics from tech blogger @小一MAX, in October 2021, the iPhone 13, which was released on September 24, ranked first in sales of JD’s self-operated mobile phones, with sales of 720,000, followed by iPhone 12 with sales of 530,000. After that, the iPhone 11 ranked fifth with 150,000 sales.

“The reverse replacement group is a minority, and most of them are iPhone users.” Yang Kaixuan believes that Apple only releases one generation of iPhone a year, and its scientific and technological achievements and innovations accumulated over the year will be concentrated on the new iPhone, while Android Smartphone manufacturers can release new products several times a year, and the price cuts are fast, so reverse replacement is not cost-effective.

“There are not a few consumers who hold coins and wait for the iPhone 14 series.” The above-mentioned Yiwei authorized store person also told ‘Tankeshen Technology’, “In the past few months, consumers have been asking about the iPhone 14 series. Information, at least dozens of people have made clear their purchase intentions.”

Under the background that the smartphone market has entered a downward channel and the price of the iPhone 14 series has reached a new high, Li Yang attributed the reasons why consumers are still willing to pay for the iPhone to “Apple has formed a wide enough moat in the high-end market, and it has become more expensive in consumption. In the minds of consumers, a deep-rooted high-end brand awareness has been formed.”

In the high-end market, Apple is the consistent overlord.

According to the market share data of smartphones in the price segment above US$600 (approximately RMB 4,000) in China in the first half of 2020 released by the market research agency IDC, Huawei ranked first with a market share of 44.1%, and Apple had a tight market share of 44%. Subsequently, the two accounted for a total of 88.1% of the high-end market.

According to statistics from market research firm Counterpoint Research, in the first quarter of 2022, in the high-end market with a price of more than $400, Apple’s market share reached 62%, far ahead of Samsung, which ranked second with a market share of 16%. .

Many “fruit fans” told Tankeshen Technology that there are currently plans to purchase iPhone 14 series models, including many owners of iPhone 13 series models.

Huang Wenwei is also optimistic about the sales of the iPhone 14 series this year: “Consumers still recognize Apple, and the high-end models sold are basically all iPhones. Every few months after Apple’s new products are launched, it is almost a year. One of the few months in which I can make money.”

“The industry chain revealed that this year Apple has a lot more stock of Pro models than in previous years, especially the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the highest-priced iPhone 14 Pro Max.” Yang Kaixuan said, “It’s enough to show that consumers are still willing to Pay for the iPhone.”

Where do mobile phone dealers go?

Huang Wenwei understands that Apple alone obviously cannot save the slump in the smartphone market, nor can it restore the industry to its prosperity before 2019. “After Apple’s new product sales season, I may bid farewell to this circle.”

From the perspective of industry development, China’s smartphones have developed for many years, and the penetration rate has exceeded 80%. The industry has entered the stage of stock competition, and the growth will be unsustainable; from the perspective of consumer demand, the replacement budget has been greatly reduced, and the replacement cycle has also decreased. Extended to 31 months from the previous 16 months.

In Huang Wenwei’s view, the current stage of smart phones is quite mature, and there is not much room for improvement, so some manufacturers have turned to make a big fuss about the imaging system, but for most ordinary consumers, the imaging system is in the daily use scene. perception is not obvious.

“The smartphone industry has ushered in the most serious crisis in history.” Zheng Weiqiang felt the same way. “Smartphone dealers are going through a long winter.”

A domestic mobile phone dealer told ‘Tankeshen Technology’ that its daily turnover was halved from the previous 30,000 yuan, and it was only a few thousand yuan in poor times, and even only one mobile phone could be sold a day.

“Based on the current market conditions and environment of the smartphone market, it is still within the affordable range of most dealers, but for some smaller dealers, it is the limit of life and death to drag on, not only to bear the rent, but also to Faced with the invisible losses caused by the backlog of inventory.” The dealer admitted frankly.

Huang Wenwei has tried to save himself. “In addition to the iPhone, folding screen mobile phones may become a new growth point in the industry.” Huang Wenwei noticed that around folding screen mobile phones, major smartphone manufacturers may launch a market battle.

Figure / Vision China, based on RF protocol Figure / Vision China, based on RF protocol

According to the forecast of Counterpoint Research, folding screen mobile phones will be the fastest growing smartphone product category in 2022. It is expected that the sales volume of folding screen mobile phones will reach 16 million units in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 73%. In 2022-2025, the sales volume of folding screen mobile phones will reach 16 million. The compound growth rate will reach 42.90%.

However, although the popularity and volume of folding screen mobile phones have skyrocketed, the current folding screen mobile phone is still a niche market. In the first half of 2022, China’s smartphone shipments will be 136 million units, while the proportion of folding screen mobile phones is only 0.8%.

“OPPO and Honor’s folding screen mobile phones were once hard to find. At that time, the production capacity could not keep up, and the second was the flock of early adopters, which led to the sales of folding screen mobile phones was very hot.” Huang Wenwei said, “But now folding screen mobile phones There is no shortage of stock, and the price is high, almost on par with the iPhone, and the popularity has receded, so it is not realistic to rescue yourself through a folding screen mobile phone.”

Perseverance or retreat is also a difficult problem for Zheng Weiqiang.

“The single-machine profit of iPhone has dropped a lot compared with a few years ago, and the maximum profit is no more than 500 yuan, while the single-machine profit of Xiaomi OV is only 120 yuan, and now it does not make much money. In addition, the profit margin of physical stores is limited, rent, water and electricity. Costs are rising in all aspects, and only a few months after Apple’s new products are launched can they make more money, which is usually difficult.” Zheng Weiqiang told ‘Tenkershen Technology’ that clearing the backlog of inventory is still his main work in the second half of the year, “Even if I really got to the point of closing the store, and I want to minimize the loss first.”

Smartphone dealers are not alone in their difficult situation. According to incomplete statistics, there are currently about 300,000 mobile phone stores across the country. In the first half of this year, more than 80% of them were in loss or on the verge of loss.

A county-level mobile phone distributor told ‘Tankeshen Technology’ that there was originally a street called “Mobile Phone Street” by locals in the county where he was located, and almost all smartphone brands could be found on this street. Now the name “Mobile Phone Street” is still there, but there are no stores that sell mobile phones.

The iPhone 14 series is about to be released, but the pessimism of mobile phone dealers is still difficult to reduce.

“I have survived for three years, and I don’t know how long it will last.” Zheng Weiqiang believes that although Apple’s new products are coming soon, it is difficult to fundamentally reverse the survival dilemma of smartphone dealers.

“Waiting for the next spring or quitting in the cold winter doesn’t seem to make a difference, because no one knows when spring will come.” Zheng Weiqiang sighed.

*Note: All names in the text are pseudonyms. The title picture in the article comes from: Vision China, based on the RF protocol.

(Disclaimer: This article only represents the author’s point of view and does not represent the position of

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