Apple shipped as many as 65.9 million iPhone units during the first fiscal quarter of 2019 (Q4 2018), according to a report by Strategy Analytics. The new report comes just in a day after the Cupertino company officially revealed that the iPhone install base hit 900 million units during the quarter. The Tim Cook-led company said that it had an overall base of 1.4 billion active devices, showing an increase of 100 million from last year. Canalys, in a separate quarterly report, mentioned that Apple's annual growth in the smartphone market globally declined about seven percent due to fewer shipments of iPhone models. Samsung also reportedly saw a dip of over five percent.
Strategy Analytics highlights that Apple shipped 65.9 million iPhone units in the first fiscal quarter of this year (or the fourth quarter of the last calendar year). The shipments represent a 15 percent year-over-year decline from the 77.3 million iPhone units shipped during the first fiscal quarter of last year.
The decline in shipments of iPhone models in the last quarter was predictable as Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a 15 percent year-over-year decline in iPhone revenue to $51.9 billion (roughly Rs. 3,70,000 crores) while reporting the quarterly earnings for the first fiscal quarter.
Strategy Analytics mentions that the market performance during the last quarter was disappointing as the shipments fell sharply due to high retail pricing, unfavourable foreign exchange rates, longer ownership cycles, and intense competition from Chinese players. All this is similar to what Apple clarified to its investors. Moreover, the company also decided to reduce the prices of its iPhone models in select countries primarily to offset currency fluctuations.
Similar to Strategy Analytics, Canalys in its detailed quarterly report mentioned that Apple's annual growth in the global smartphone market declined 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, when it shipped 71.7 million units. This was close to the growth of Samsung that dropped 5.3 percent (70.3 million units shipped in Q4 2018). Thus, Apple was only slightly ahead Samsung in terms of Q4 2018 market share, with 19.8 percent compared to 19.4 percent. However, Chinese companies, including Huawei and Oppo, saw positive growth in the last quarter (47.3 percent and 20.6 percent respectively, with 60.5 million units and 31.8 million units correspondingly) - thanks to the increase in shipments of their smartphones.
Canalys underlines that the iPhone XR emerged as the top model in the overall iPhone lineup with over 22 million shipments in Q4. This was followed by the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XS that shipped over 14 million and nine million units, respectively, according to the report. Moreover, China emerged as the major challenge for the iPhone maker where its shipments continue to decline. Annually, Apple shipped 293.7 million smartphones, Canalys reported, placing it behind Samsung - Apple had a 15.3 percent market share, while Samsung had a 21.2 percent share.
"Apple will focus intently on growing its services revenue, relying now on its sticky installed base of users. But with vendors like Samsung and Huawei providing cheaper and competitive alternative devices, Apple may need to launch a cheaper iPhone, or at least become more flexible with channel discounting, to safeguard the same installed base it has bet its future on," Canalys said in the report.
Aside from Apple, Samsung saw a decline in its shipments due to tough competition built by its Chinese rivals. The South Korean company shipped 294 million smartphones in the year 2018 - 23 million less than the number of units shipped in 2017 and significantly lower than the target of 320 million units. Having said that, the company is changing its strategy - one of the pieces of evidence is the launch of the Galaxy M series that is aiming to take on the offerings provided by Asus, Realme, and Xiaomi.
Canalys believes that in 2019, Samsung will "fight back and gain lost share" from the likes of Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi.
Huawei came third in the Canalys list with an annual growth of 34.5 percent on its full year shipments (206 million units). The company saw a record market share in China as well as shipped most of its models overseas. The analyst firm notes that while Huawei's shipments in its domestic market were 40 percent, the company had shipped 60 percent units in foreign markets.
However, Canalys states that political tensions, security concerns, and disputes over intellectual property theft are likely to be the key critical obstacles for Huawei this year.
Just like Huawei, Xiaomi also managed gain with a large annual growth of 31.6 percent year-over-year (120.3 million units shipped in 2018) and overtook Oppo (119.6 million units shipped in 2018) for fourth place. Xiaomi shipped 26.4 million units in Q4 2018. Oppo also gained with 6.9 percent growth annually for the full year, though. Oppo shipped 31.8 million units in Q4 2018, placing it ahead of Xiaomi in the quarter, with a 8.8 percent share compared to 7.3 percent.