Smartphone sales worldwide, which have been slowing, have fallen into reverse. The number of units sold dropped 9% to about 400 million in the fourth quarter. A research firm that covers these sales said it is the largest drop in history.
There was a silver lining for one company. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) led the sector in market share, at 19%, during the period, which put it slightly ahead of Samsung.
Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics remarked:
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 US$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 marketshare 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.
Apple just announced earnings and reported that it sold 77.3 million units, matching the Strategy Analytics figure.
One of the hottest companies in the business stumbled. 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 marketshare 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.
Apple took the prize as number one. However, now it has to face a faltering global market.