Apple is expected to pursue iPhone price cuts in China and other markets, as the US technology giant suffered a decline in sales of its flagship product in the quarter ended December, according to analysts. Most of that decline was attributed by Apple to its Greater China business and other emerging markets, where a stronger US dollar amplified the price of iPhones in local currency terms. While Apple has not announced specific iPhone price adjustments in China, IHS Markit senior analyst Zaker Li said the US company has already pushed that process forward through its authorised retail partners in the world’s second largest economy. Li said these authorised distributors, including e-commerce provider JD.com and various traditional bricks-and-mortar electronics retailers, started offering in late December cash coupons of up to 20 per cent off the retail price of iPhones sold in the country. “The price reduction in China may not be too significant because iPhones are positioned at the high-end of the domestic smartphone market,” Li said. “Still, these price cuts could stimulate sales to a certain extent.” Apple reported on Tuesday in the US that its iPhone revenue declined 15 per cent in its fiscal first quarter ended December 29 to US$51.98 billion, down from US$61.10 billion in the year-ago quarter because of foreign exchange conditions. Currency depreciation affected several countries last year, particularly China, India and Indonesia within Asia, according to Kiranjeet Kaur, a senior research manager at IDC Asia-Pacific. She said iPhone prices were even higher across markets in the Middle East and Africa. We are undertaking and accelerating a number of initiatives to improve our results Tim Cook, Apple CEO The yuan, for example, declined 5.7 per cent against the US dollar in 2018, despite efforts by the People’s Bank of China to prop up the country’s currency to prevent rapid depreciation. “Apple’s policy in the past has been to pass on the impact of depreciation to consumers, while some other players have absorbed this cost to some extent,” Kaur said. “I think [a price adjustment] is a good move in markets where currency fluctuation has affected iPhone prices a lot.” She expected iPhone prices to be closer to those of its competitors’ devices. A smaller premium over other brands makes the iPhone look more affordable, which could help revive sales, the IDC analyst added. Apple hardest hit as China’s smartphone shipments fall 14 per cent to 396 million in 2018 While Apple chief executive Tim Cook blamed the weak Chinese economy when the company announced earlier this month a downgrade in revenue guidance for the quarter ended December, analysts said he may have glossed over strategic missteps it the world’s largest smartphone market and the effects of fierce competition from fast-improving Chinese Android handset makers. Cupertino, California-based Apple’s latest iPhone models, which are mostly priced above US$1,000, face a tough challenge from Chinese-brand devices that cost about half or a third less. “We are undertaking and accelerating a number of initiatives to improve our results,” Cook said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday after Apple announced its latest quarterly financial results. “It’s not in our DNA to just stand around and wait for macroeconomic conditions to improve.” Behind the rise of China’s smartphone brands lies growing unease over country’s tech gains “We are undertaking and accelerating a number of initiatives to improve our results,” Cook said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday after Apple announced its latest quarterly financial results. “It’s not in our DNA to just stand around and wait for macroeconomic conditions to improve.” Despite slower iPhone sales last quarter, Apple unseated Samsung Electronics to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor with a 19.8 per cent market share on shipments of 71.7 million units, according to data from research firm Canalys. Chinese Android device makers Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Xiaomi rounded out the top five global smartphone suppliers in the fourth quarter. Credit Suisse predicts steep fall in global smartphone output as demand and China economy slow Zhang Mengmeng, an analyst with Counterpoint Research, said iPhone price reductions “should work” for Apple in a cost-sensitive market like mainland China, adding that the company had made adjustments for domestic consumers before. “Apple had previously released a 32-gigabyte version of the iPhone 6 specifically for China, which helped drive up sales,” Zhang said.