Consumer Electronics

Smartphone Sales Rise 12% in 2015 to Reach 1.4 Billion

Global smartphone shipments reached a level of about one-sixth of the global population last year. Shipments rose 12% to 1.4 billion. While the number is impressive, the growth rate has slowed, raising the question of how large the pie for giants, which include Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), will be in the future.

Samsung, which has struggled to compete with Apple and Chinese-made smartphones, and has shown withering revenue but still leads the industry with a share of 22.0%. Apple was a close second. Based on data from Strategic Analytics, Apple’s growth has leveled, as was evident in its most recently posted quarter. Its share for the year was 16.1%.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, reported:

Samsung shipped 81.3 million smartphones worldwide in Q4 2015, growing an above-average 9 percent annually from 74.5 million units in Q4 2014. This was Samsung’s fastest growth rate for almost two years and it helped Samsung to stay ahead of Apple and maintain first position with 20 percent share for the quarter and 22 percent share for the full year. Samsung is widely rumored to be launching its new Galaxy S7 flagship model in the coming weeks and this should enable Samsung to consolidate its smartphone leadership. Apple shipped 74.8 million smartphones worldwide and captured 18 percent marketshare in Q4 2015, barely changed from a year earlier when it delivered 74.5 million units in Q4 2014. Apple’s iPhone growth is peaking. Apple will have to expand into new markets like India or Nigeria if it wants to reignite iPhone growth in 2016.

The launch of the Samsung S7 will put further pressure on iPhone sales, at least until Apple releases the iPhone 7, likely later this year.
The other leaders in smartphone sales are also-rans in terms of shipments:

Woody Oh, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Huawei maintained third position with 8 percent global smartphone marketshare in Q4 2015, up from 6 percent a year ago. Huawei joined an elite club and shipped over 100 million smartphones in a year for the first time ever during 2015. It was an impressive performance. However, there are signs that Huawei’s growth is starting to slow. Its annual growth rate of 35 percent halved sequentially from 62 percent in the prior quarter, as major vendors like Xiaomi began to fight back in core markets of Asia.”

Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Lenovo-Motorola held on to fourth position with 5 percent global smartphone marketshare in Q4 2015, but its shipment growth rate declined 18 percent annually. The merger of Lenovo and Motorola has so far not been a success and the two firms’ combined smartphone shipments today are lower than when they first joined together in 2014. Xiaomi maintained fifth place with 5 percent marketshare in Q4 2015. Xiaomi is fighting back in China and India with improved 4G smartphone designs and once again placing competitive pressure on rivals like Huawei, LG, ZTE and Micromax.”

For these stragglers, in 2016 there may not be enough growth to go around.

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