Korean electronics giant Samsung took the top spot in terms of sales of devices as global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9 percent increase over the same period in 2015, according to a new report released by research firm Gartner.
Samsung, which has 23 percent market share and showed a decline of 0.9 percent from the corresponding period last year, is followed by Apple with 14.8 percent market share. This is the first time the iPhone-maker has registered a double-digit decline in sales figures. Apple had 17.9 percent market share for the same period in 2015.
“Samsung’s Galaxy S7 series phones and renewed portfolio positioned it as a strong competitor in the smartphone market, and more so in the emerging markets where it has been facing fierce competition from local manufacturers,” Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said explaining Samsung’s leadership spot.
The report also explains Apple’s double-digit decline. “Apple’s upgrade programme in the US has helped sweeten its flagship iPhone 6s and 6s model pricing to drive sales in its largest smartphone market. Apple is also exploring ways to refarm second-hand iPhones coming through the program in emerging markets,” Gartner said.
Interestingly, three Chinese brands are now in the top five with Huawei leading at number three and followed by Oppo and Xiaomi. Gupta, who attributed the presence of three Chinese brands on the list to growth saturation for large smartphone-makers, said: “In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands’ long-standing business models to increase their share.”
“With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands. Two Chinese brands ranked within the top five worldwide smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2015, and represented 11 percent of the market. In the first quarter of 2016, there were three Chinese brands – Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi – and they achieved 17 percent of the market,” he added.
While Lenovo disappeared from the fourth spot, Oppo has moved in with unit sales growth of 145 percent. The company was the title sponsor for the recently concluded ICC World T20 cricket event. “Lenovo had another challenging quarter with its worldwide smartphone sales declining 33 percent,” Gupta said. “Its smartphone sales fell by 75 percent in Greater China, where it faced strong competition from local brands. Lenovo is also struggling to bring synergies with Motorola’s device business, managing lower costs and overheads of the two brands,” he added.
On the other hand, Oppo, like Huawei and Xiaomi, saw strong growth in China, taking share from players such as Lenovo, Samsung and Yulong. Huawei saw strong smartphone demand in Europe, the Americas and Africa, while Xiaomi and Oppo saw their smartphone sales in emerging Asia/Pacific rise by 20 percent and 199 percent, respectively.
The report, which showed that smartphone sales had represented 78 percent of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016, claims that the increase in smartphone sales were driven by demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets and for affordable 4G smartphones, led by 4G connectivity promotion plans from communications service providers (CSPs) in many markets worldwide.