Amidst the gloom around Apple’s tough quarter thanks to declining iPhone revenues in markets like China, comes the interesting news that it has overtaken Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor for Q4 2018.
According to research firm Canalys, while the global smartphone market shrunk by 6 per cent in the quarter, Apple with 71.7 million units of iPhone became the largest vendor. Interestingly, this number is seven per cent less than what it did in the corresponding quarter last year.
With Samsung pushed to number two, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi made up the top five. In 2018, 1.4 billion smartphones were shipped globally, down from 1.5 billion in 2017. Apple completed the full-year in second place behind Samsung.
Canalys’ Senior Analyst Ben Stanton stated that it is no shock to smartphone vendors that the market has passed its peak.
“People are clearly keeping phones for longer as product innovation slows. But the speed and severity of shipment decline has caught many vendors, investors, and other companies in the value chain off guard,” he said, echoing the sentiments expressed by Apple CEO Tim Cook in his earnings call the same day.
“International factors like the US-China trade war, weak consumer spending in developed markets, and a buoyant market for refurbished phones, have catalyzed the decline of smartphone shipments,” Stanton added.
Apple’s punt to launch a slightly more affordable smartphone seems to have worked as the iPhone XR emerged the top shipping iPhone with over 22 million shipments. The iPhone XS Max and iPhone XS, which shipped over 14 million and nine million units respectively, showing users were preferring the larger iPhone flagship.
Samsung’s shipments declined five per cent as it “succumbed to hyper-aggressive price competition by Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo”, the Canalys report said.
Huawei has a very successful year with 47 per cent growth in the midst of all the carnage across the segment. “Its new image as a technology leader has helped Huawei increase shipments across all price points,” Canalys noted.
However, with the market conditions changing like never before, 2019 could end up being a tougher challenge for all players.