Pile of smartphones

The worldwide smartphone revolution looks like it’s reached a peak if new reports by Strategy Analytics and Gartner are to be believed. 

Strategy Analytics says global smartphone sales fell by 9 per cent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2017 to 400 million units.

The Strategy Analytics study follows similar findings by Gartner when the research consultancy analysed figures from the same final quarter of 2017.

Gartner put unit sales at 408 million and said the decline was almost 6 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2016, as reported in TechCrunch.com.

Strategy Analytics also found a dip in smartphone sales when it looked at sales figures for the first quarter of 2016, as reported on CNBC.com.

But this latest report by Strategy Analytics shows what the researcher describes as “the biggest annual fall in smartphone history”.

In terms of leading companies, as you might have expected, in terms of market share, Apple was in first place with 19 per cent globally.

Samsung, which some might have thought had overtaken Apple, was actually in second position.

Xiaomi, meanwhile, is continuing its dramatic rise, almost doubling smartphone shipments from a year ago.

Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, said: “Global smartphone shipments declined 9 percent annually from 438.7 million units in Q4 2016 to 400.2 million in Q4 2017.

“It was the biggest annual fall in smartphone history. The shrinkage in global smartphone shipments was caused by a collapse in the huge China market, where demand fell 16 percent annually due to longer replacement rates, fewer operator subsidies and a general lack of wow models.

“However, on a full-year basis, global smartphone shipments grew 1 percent and topped an impressive 1.5 billion units for the first time ever.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said: “Apple shipped 77.3 million smartphones worldwide in Q4 2017, slipping 1 percent annually from 78.3 million in Q4 2016.

“Despite robust iPhone X demand and an iPhone average selling price approaching an incredible $800, we note global iPhone volumes have actually declined on an annual basis for 5 of the past 8 quarters.

“If Apple wants to expand shipment volumes in the future, it will need to launch a new wave of cheaper iPhones and start to push down, not up, the pricing curve. Samsung dipped 4 percent annually and shipped 74.4 million smartphones for 19 percent market share worldwide in Q4 2017, up slightly from 18 percent share a year ago.

“Samsung is under pressure from Chinese rivals in some major markets, like China and India, but it remains by far the largest smartphone brand on a global basis, shipping an unmatched 317.5 million units in full-year 2017.”

Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, said: “Huawei maintained third position with 10 percent global smartphone market share in Q4 2017, holding steady from the same level a year ago.

“Huawei is performing well across Asia and Europe, but it is struggling to crack the valuable US market due to limited distribution channels.

“Huawei’s goal to be the world’s number one or two smartphone vendor is unlikely to happen if it cannot make headway in the United States.”

Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, said: “Oppo shipped 29.5 million smartphones during Q4 2017, unmoved from 29.5 million units in Q4 2016.

“Oppo was growing smartphone shipments at a 99 percent annual rate a year ago, but its growth has now dropped to zero. The golden age for Oppo is coming to an end and it is facing serious competition from Xiaomi and others.

“Xiaomi soared 87 percent annually, taking fifth place with 27.8 million shipments, more than doubling its global smartphone market share to 7 percent in Q4 2017, up from 3 percent a year ago.

“Xiaomi’s range of Android models, such as the Redmi Note 4, is proving wildly popular in India, snatching volumes from competitors such as Lenovo and Reliance Jio.

“Xiaomi is outgrowing almost everyone for now, but we expect its breakneck speed to slow this year, as rivals such as Huawei fight back with improved or cheaper new designs.”

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