Apple struggling in Chinese smartphone battle

The iPhone is losing ground in the world's second-largest economy...

Tim Cook, Apple, San Bernardino,

Image: RICHARD DREW / AP/Press Association Images

It's had to deal with fake Apple stores, counterfeit products, economic softness and low-cost rivals in its race to ensure it is China's king of the smartphones, but now Apple is slipping down the pecking order.

Bloomberg reports that Apple has "dropped to fifth place in Chinese smartphone shipments, losing ground in its biggest overseas market."

It follows a new study from Counterpoint Research that found that its share of the market has fallen from 12% last year to 10.8%.

Apple is trailing local brands Huawei, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, who have a combined 53% market share.

Huawei leads the pack, with a major 17.3% slice, while Oppo is making up ground fast, nearly doubling its share to 11%.

Apple's sales in Greater China – including Hong Kong and Taiwan – plunged 26% year-on-year for the March quarter.

Increasing regulation of its app store and services, along with its failure to protect many of its patents in the country, have hampered Apple's endeavours.

In May, Apple lost a court battle to retain exclusive use of the iPhone trademark.

That same month, Apple CEO Tim Cook "caught a cab" to Beijing as his company invested $1bn in Didi Chuxing, China's answer to Uber.

His upbeat, conciliatory presence echoed the many visits of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who has put on a beaming public face whilst battling regulations behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, the investment suggest the Chinese central government is now putting the pressure on the tech giant to stump up money for its indigenous businesses, as it has done with many multinationals in the past.