Chances high for more patent cases
Apple Inc's latest patent dispute in China may hurt the company's iPhone sales and harm its brand image in the world's largest smartphone market, experts said.
Though the United States firm had moved quickly to lodge an appeal, the case may deal a blow to the company's China business in the long term while its local rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd are leaping forward, in terms of market share and product quality.
Xiang Ligang, a Beijing-based independent expert and founder of industry website cctime.com, said that until Apple rolls out the iPhone 7 in September, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus will remain its main offerings to Chinese consumers.
Latest data from research agency Gartner Inc show that in the first quarter of 2016, Apple sold about 13 million handsets on the Chinese mainland market, with the iPhone 6 series accounting for 35 percent.
"Any possibility of banning the iPhone 6 will deal a blow to Apple and harm the company's long-term growth, especially when it is already wrestling with declining smartphone shipments here,"Xiang said.
The world's largest tech giant saw its China sales fall 26 percent in the first quarter, triggering its Q1 revenue drop in 13 years.
However, its arch rival Huawei achieved a year-on-year sales growth of 47.6 percent, with quarterly shipments exceeding 16million handsets.
The robust growth gave Huawei high confidence. The company said it is aiming to beat Apple and Samsung within the next five years to become the world's biggest smartphone maker, with a market share of more than 25 percent.
Ma Yu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Chinese smartphone vendors are emerging as competitive rivals to Western companies and South Korea's Samsung. So, similar disputes over patents will likely arise between China and the US tech firms.
There already appears to be a growing discord between China and the US in communication technology trade,Ma said.
Earlier this month, a section of the US media reported that the US Commerce Department is investigating whether Huawei has exported US technological goods to sanctioned countries.
This came in the wake of the Shenzhen-based company's plans to launch its handsets and personal computers in the US.
In April, similar concerns prompted the US government to temporarily impose sanctions against another Chinese tech firm ZTE Corp, until China's Ministry of Commerce intervened to help negotiate a temporary compromise.