Apple takes top spot in worldwide smartphone market in Q4

Friday 2 February 2018 | 10:57 CET | News

Apple pushed in front of Samsung in the fourth quarter by shipping more smartphones, even if the number of iPhones shipped was lower year-on-year, according to the latest study from IDC. The total number of smartphones shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter fell 6.3 percent from the year before to USD 403.5 million, on the back of a slower than expected 2017 holiday quarter. The trend was very visible in developed markets such as China and the US, where consumers did not rush to upgrade their devices to the newer generation of higher-priced flagship phones. For the full year, a total of 1.472 billion units shipped, from 1473.4 billion the year earlier. 

IDC noted that higher price points seemed to have been outweighed by new features such as full-screen displays, advanced biometrics, and improved artificial intelligence. The top smartphone companies offered their widest product portfolio yet in order to capture a great audience. Meanwhile, value brands such as Honor, Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo pushed competition at the low end. Apple, Samsung and Huawei maintained their position at the top. 

Apple moves to first position in Q4

Volumes at Apple in Q4 reached 77.3 million units, a year-on-year decline of 1.3 percent, with the market share rising to 19.2 percent from 18.2 percent. Volumes were still enough to put Apple back at the top in front of Samsung. Apple continues to prove that having numerous models at various price points works well. And although demand for the new higher priced iPhone X may not have been as strong as many expected, the overall iPhone lineup appealed to a wider range of consumers in both emerging and developed markets. For the full year, Apple finished second after shipping 215.8 million units, up 0.2 percent from the 215.4 million units shipped in 2016. 

Samsung still at the top in 2017

Samsung stayed at the top for the full year, shipping 317.3 million phones, against 311.4 million shipped the year before . For the quarter, the company shipped 74.1 million phones, a dip from the 77.5 million shipped in 2016. Its market share meanwhile lifted to 18.4 percent in the quarter, from 18.0 percent year-on-year. The pending arrival of the next flagship, the Galaxy S9, may represent the brand's best chance of winning over both new and current customers in 2018. 

Huawei maintains third place despite US disappointment

Huawei stayed in third position in Q4, despite intensified competition from Chinese players such as Oppo and Vivo. Huawei shipped 41.0 million units, down 9.7 percent from the 45.4 million shipped the year before. For the year, Huawei shipped 153.1 million units, up 9.9 percent from the 139.3 million unit shipped in 2016. The Mate series and Honor sub-brand continued to drive volume in numerous markets, while the Y series pushed at at the low-end. Plans to move into the US market had to be put on hold as both AT&T and Verizon recently declined to bring Huawei flagships to the US. 

Xiaomi and Oppo charge forward

Xiaomi doubled its market share to 7 percent from 3.3 percent, buoyed by its focus on growth outside China, with India and Russia as two of its largest markets. The company shipped 28.1 million phones, from 14.3 million the year before. Huawei has been expanding its number of Mi Stores and Mi Service Centers, also in Indonesia. The company also made inroads in India with the launch of its Redmi Y-series and the hire of Bollywood celebrity Katrina Kaif as ambassador. The Redmi 5A, launched at USD 78, saw more than 1 million devices sold within a month. The brand continued to expand its retail presence by adding more preferred partners, launching new Mi stores, and partnering with large format retail stores. For the year, Xiaomi came in fifth place, despite shipments rising to 92 million from 53.0 million and its market advancing to 6.3 percent from 3.6 percent. 

Oppo rounded the top five in Q4, falling one place. The company shipped 27.4 million smartphones, against 31.6 million, but its market dipped lower to 6.8 percent from 7.3 percent. For the full year, the company was ahead of Xiaomi, shipping 111.8 million phones from 99.8 million the year earlier, and with its market going higher to 7.6 percent from 6.8 percent. Oppo has also moved beyond its domestic Chinese market to gain a foothold in other Asian countries such as India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It however experienced a slight decline in the quarter after making some changes to its channel strategy by being more selective about its retail partners.

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