Samsung Still No.1, Despite Decline in Smartphone Sales

According to Gartner Inc., the global sales of smartphones to end users totaled nearly 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017 (5.6% decline compared to the same period in 2016). This marks the first year-on-year decline since Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004.

Anshul Gupta, Research Director at Gartner said that there were two main factors that led to the fall. First was the upgrades from feature phones to smartphones slowing down since users tend to buy quality feature phones and the quality of the smartphone models that users choose, causing them to hold on to their devices longer and lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones.

Despite that, Samsung still retains its no.1 spot as the global smartphone position against Apple. Despite the start of a slowdown in sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+, the overall success of those models has helped Samsung improve overall average selling price.

Samsung is poised to announce the successors to its Galaxy series of smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year. The launches of its next flagship devices are likely to boost Samsung’s smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018. While Apple’s market share stabilised in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016, iPhone sales fell 5%.

Meanwhile, Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to achieve year-on-year unit growth (7.6% and 79%, respectively) and grew market share in the quarter. With Huawei’s new smartphone additions in the quarter, including Mate 10 Lite, Honor 6C Pro and Enjoy 7S, the vendor broadened the appeal of its smartphones.

In 2017 as a whole, smartphone sales to end users totaled over 1.5 billion units, an increase of 2.7% from 2016. Huawei, ranked no.3, raised its share in 2017, continuing to gain on Apple. At the same time, the combined market share of the Chinese vendors in the top five increased by 4.2% points, while the market share of top two, Samsung and Apple, remained unchanged.

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