Today, Credit Suisse analyst Matt Cabral said that shipments of iPhone in China fell more than 35% in November, compared to the same month in 2018. Apple infamously suffered a mass slowdown in China iPhone demand for the holiday quarter in 2018, so a fall compared to that reduced level is possibly significant.
Monthly shipment data does not correspond 1:1 to sales, and these are just analyst predictions at this point, of course.
Another thing to remember is Apple’s launch timing for the iPhone this year is different from 2018, which makes year-ago comparisons harder. In 2018, the iPhone XR shipped at the very end of October. In 2019 Apple released iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro simultaneously in mid-September.
Credit Suisse acknowledges that monthly shipment data can be “volatile” but says that it has seen double-digit declines in China for two months now, with -10.3% in October and -35.4% in November. The analyst says the wider smartphone market in China is up 0.2% year-over-year, suggesting that there is weakness in the iPhone specifically.
Whilst iPhone 11 appears to be selling well on a worldwide basis, there are some early signs that Apple’s situation in China may not be as rosy. As always, early analyst predictions should be treated with some skepticism. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong.
Nevertheless, the report seems to be resonating with the investor community with AAPL stock currently trading down about 1% in premarket trading.