Apple CEO Tim Cook cheered on gamers during a surprise visit to China, underscoring the market’s importance to the iPhone giant as it faces mounting challenges. Gamers gathered at an Apple store in Chengdu, southwest China, to play the “Honor of Kings” game developed by TiMi Studio, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
“The action-packed Honor of Kings started here in Chengdu and is now a global phenomenon on the App Store,” Cook said in a post on the Chinese social media service Weibo. Cook also posted a video of himself cheering on the players during the game. “Honor of Kings” is one of the biggest mobile games in China and a major source of revenue for Apple’s App Store in China. The Apple executive’s visit to the company’s third-biggest market comes less than a month after the launch of the company’s flagship smartphone, the iPhone 15, and as Huawei tries to make a comeback in the mobile market. .
Sales of the iPhone 15 series fell 4.5% compared to the iPhone 14 in the first 17 days after their release, Counterpoint Research said in a report published on Tuesday. It comes after Chinese tech giant Huawei quietly launched a smartphone featuring high-end semiconductors and 5G connectivity last month, despite US attempts to prevent it.
Huawei was once China’s biggest smartphone maker and Apple’s main rival, but fell to sixth place before US sanctions denied it access to key technologies needed to compete. But it wasn’t until Monday that analysts at Jefferies published a report saying that Huawei has overtaken Apple to become China’s largest smartphone maker.
“It’s certainly been a difficult start for Apple, driven by a combination of factors,” Ethan Qi, associate director of Counterpoint Research, told CNBC via email. Qi attributed Apple’s challenges to poor consumer confidence, the iPhone 15’s poorer performance than the iPhone 14 and increased competition in the high-end smartphone market.
“All of these factors combined caused Apple to lose some of its luster in the first few weeks of iPhone 15 sales,” Qi said.