A growing number of former Apple devotees in China have started switching from iPhones to domestic Huawei smartphones as trade and technology tensions escalate between Washington and Beijing.
The South China Morning Post reported that consumers were spurred by a rising “nationalist sentiment” to support the Chinese tech giant which has been blacklisted by the US.
According to the newspaper, “nationalist rhetoric of switch to Huawei has gained increasing traction as trade tensions escalate.”
Social media campaigns have been urging citizens to support Huawei at Apples expense in response to US-China trade disputes, it said.
Some long-time Apple users in China have started framing Huawei purchases as acts of patriotism.
“There is a calling from my heart that I need to show support for Chinese brands, especially in the trade war climate,” said Wang Zhixin, a manager at one of Chinas largest solar module manufacturers. Earlier this month Wang retired his three-year-old iPhone 7 and got a Huawei P30.
He explained that Huawei was not entirely chosen out of sympathy. “The company has a reputation for better quality at a cheaper price… [The P30] is faster and can take better pictures.”
Another former Apple fan, Sam Li, who works at a state-owned telecom company in Beijing, said that “Its kind of embarrassing to pull an iPhone out of your pocket nowadays when all the company executives use Huawei.”
China is Apples largest overseas market, accounting for 17 percent of its total sales in the most recent quarter. Last year, Apple ranked as Chinas fifth most popular smartphone brand with a 9.1 percent market share in the country. The company makes roughly 20 percent of its revenues and profits in China, which is the worlds largest market for smartphones. Apples market share in China has already fallen to seven percent in the first quarter of 2019, mainly due to Chinese consumers growing support for domestic brands.
On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs said that Apples earnings could drop by almost 30 percent if its products were banned in mainland China.