Apple is losing ground to China’s homegrown rivals

BEIJING– Apple Inc. brought the high-end smartphone to China. Now it is sputtering as homegrown rivals win over consumers by offering similar designs and features at far lower prices.

While Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, blamed China’s economic slowdown for weakening sales that hurt its global revenue in the past quarter, the company’s problems run deeper than that. The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant may have underestimated how competitive domestic smartphone makers have become, analysts say.

Once a top-seller in China, Apple AAPL, +4.27% has slipped to the fifth-biggest phone seller in that country, trailing four domestic producers that have all been growing in popularity. Despite developing more features targeted at Chinese consumers, Apple’s market share has stagnated.

Chinese rivals including Huawei Technologies Co. and Oppo and Vivo, which are owned by BBK Electronics Corp., have rolled out popular features such as camera functions designed for users to take better selfies.

“The others are a little closer to the pulse of what matters to Chinese consumers,” said Mark Natkin, managing director at Marbridge Consulting in Beijing.

An expanded version of this report appears at

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