Counterpoint's latest report suggests that the global smartphone shipments declined 4 percent annually in 2018, and saw a record decline of 7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. Apple and Samsung, in particular, saw a decline in shipments due to high price points, no groundbreaking innovation, and tough competition from other brands like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo. Poor smartphone sales in China were also largely responsible in the overall decline in smartphone shipments. Despite the slowing smartphone market scenario, brands like Huawei and Xiaomi flourished, the latter particularly, because of its success in the Indian market.
Samsung managed to ship 291.8 million smartphone units in CY2018, as compared to 318.1 million smartphone units in CY 2017. Its market share reduced to 19 percent, from 20 percent in 2017. Its fourth quarter shipments reduced from 74.4 million units in Q4 2017 to 69.8 million units in Q4 2018.
Apple also saw a decline, with 215.8 million units shipped in 2017 down to 206.3 million units shipped in 2018. Its market share, however, remained intact at 14 percent. Its fourth quarter shipments declined from 77.3 million units in Q4 2017 to 65.9 million units in Q4 2018.
Huawei, on the other hand, saw a boost in sales with 205.3 million units shipped in 2018, as compared to 153.1 million units shipped in 2017. Its market share increased from 10 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2018. If this momentum continues, Huawei looks to leave Apple behind in the global smartphone market share, and take the second spot soon. Coming to the fourth quarter numbers, Huawei managed to sell 59.7 million units in Q4 2018, a big jump from 41 million units shipped in Q4 2017.
Xiaomi too had a good year, with 121 million units shipped in all of 2018 compared to 96 million in 2017. Its market share increased to 8 percent in 2018, from 6 percent in 2017. Sales in the fourth quarter however saw a decline from 31 million in Q4 2017 to 26.5 million in Q4 2018.
Oppo and Vivo also saw steady sales figures, with no decline reported. A notable mention to HMD Global who is seen to grow at a steadfast rate year-on-year with 7.7 million units shipped in 2017 increased to 17.5 million units shipped in 2018.
The report blames OEMS' high price tag on smartphones without offering any groundbreaking innovation that would convince consumers to upgrade their old device. This made consumers hold onto their devices longer, especially higher-end phones.
Tarun Pathak Associate Director at Counterpoint Research said, "The decline in smartphone shipments can be attributed to lengthening replacement cycles in developed markets like US, China and Western Europe. Smartphone OEMs tried to push sales by adding features such as AI, multiple camera assemblies, full-screen displays, in-screen fingerprint scanners etc. but consumers held on to their devices longer due to the absence of groundbreaking innovations and higher prices of devices being offered by the OEMs."
Canalys recently also reported on Apple's decline stating that the tech giant 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. IDC also reports that 2018 was the worst year ever for smartphone shipments with global smartphone volumes declining 4.1 percent in 2018 with a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year.