For Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors, China has been a large part of its recent growth strategy. Over the last two quarters, Apple's overall revenue growth increased 27% year over year in the recently reported second fiscal quarter behind a 30% growth figure in its first fiscal quarter. As far as Apple's Greater China growth, those figures more than doubled its overall growth figure by increasing 71% and 70%, respectively, during the aforementioned periods.
Recently, third-party research firm Strategy Analytics confirmed Apple's tremendous smartphone growth in the Middle Kingdom. The company reported Apple increased unit shipments in China 73% on a year-over-year basis during the first calendar quarter (Apple's second fiscal quarter), growing from 7.8 million units sold in 2014's first quarter to 13.5 million in this year's corresponding quarter.
This week, however, IDC released its Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker survey, and the results are even more favorable to Apple. The biggest difference between IDCs survey and Strategy Analytics is that IDC's survey reports Apple is the No.1 vendor in China.
Apple edges out Xiaomi
IDC's results are more favorable for Apple in two key areas: total units shipped and market share. As far as total units, IDC reports Apple's shipments at 14.5 million units, a full 1 million above Strategy Analytics' total. In addition, IDC reports a smaller total units shipped figure than Strategy Analytics' report -- 98.8 million versus 109.8 million. As a result of these differences, IDC reports a larger market share percentage for Apple (14.7%) than Strategy Analytics (12.3%).
As far as Apple's strongest Chinese competitor, Xiaomi, IDC's data is more of a mixed bag when compared to Strategy Analytics. IDC reports fewer units shipped this quarter -- 13.5 million versus 14 million -- but IDC's year-over-year growth rate is higher due to fewer units reported during last year's corresponding quarter. Both companies note that Xiaomi is starting to face growth concerns with IDC noting competition in the low to mid-range segment and Strategy Analytics noting its data shows two consecutive quarters of negative sequential growth.
Should Apple investors worry about a slowing growth market in China?
Due to different measuring methods, the two results vary on iPhone units shipped and on total market shipments. And while Apple investors may consider the company's unit sales to be the most important data point -- as well they should -- IDC's data is a warning for China's smartphone industry. On a year-over-year basis, IDC reported an actual drop in smartphone units shipped of 4.3% while Strategy Analytics reports a 17.3% increase.
If IDC's data is correct, and there's no guarantee that it is, Apple's growth there could slow due to an industrywide slowing market. However, this could actually be good news for Apple as this could signify a more-developed market -- like the U.S. -- with slower growth, but with more users opting for Apple's high-priced units. IDC's data seems to suggest this is currently occurring due to Apple's growth versus the overall industry's decline over the last year.
In the end, however, even if Apple fails to continue its amazing 70% revenue-growth rates in China, it's safe to assume the country will enrich investors for years to come.