The landscape of the Chinese smartphone market may change as Apple is struggling due to its patent disputes with Qualcomm.
In a preliminary ruling on Nov. 30, a Chinese court upheld Qualcomm's claim that the iPhone violated its patents, preventing the sales of Apple’s seven models, including the iPhone X, in China.
In accordance with the verdict, the Fuzhou court in Fujian, China banned the sales of the iPhone 7S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and X in China. The court ruled that Apple violated two of Qualcomm’s patents. Apple filed an appeal against the verdict on Dec, 10. The patents that Qualcomm claims to have been violated are the photo editing technology and application management through touch screens.
After the Chinese court’s ruling, Apple said it would resolve the issue by updating its iOS mobile operation system. It said that it can solve the patent infringement issue by upgrading the iOS version 11 used for older phones. Currently, the Chinese court has not banned sales of newer models including the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR that use the iOS version 12. Apple Inside estimates that the proportion of older iPhone models that are banned in China is between 20% and 50%.
In response to Qualcomm's patent infringement claims, Apple argues that "One of the two patents has been invalidated in the U.S. while the other one has never been actually used."
The Chinese court’s action against Apple gives Samsung Electronics a chance to increase its share in the Chinese market. According to Strategy Analytics (SA), Samsung’s smartphone market share in China in the third and fourth quarters was only 0.7%., lower than its average market share (2.1%) last year. The company plans to shut down its Tianjin production plant at the end of this year.
The company’s future in the Chinese market depends much on consumer response to the Galaxy A8s, Samsung’s mid- to low-end phone that was released in Beijing on Dec. 10. The A8s is the first model of the Galaxy brand to feature the “Infiniti-O” display. The front side of the full screen only has a camera hole, and the earphone jack has been removed.