2017 has been a remarkable year for the smartphone industry. While Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has celebrated its 10th iPhone anniversary by launching the much-awaited much-hyped iPhone X, Samsung, Google, Huawei and many others have also come up with their flagship devices with some jaw-dropping features. Despite, the global smartphone industry has witnessed a notable decline in the shipments during the fourth quarter of 2017. According to the latest report by IDC, the worldwide smartphone shipments reached 403.5 million units during the fourth quarter of 2017, with a 6.3% YoY drop. In contrast, smartphone vendors had shipped nearly 430 million units during the year-ago quarter, resulting in 6.9% YoY growth.
But not all is that bad for the global smartphone industry as it has witnessed a negligible decline of 0.1% YoY in 2017. Overall, 1.472 billion units of smartphones were shipped in 2017, as compared to 1.473 billion units in 2016.
The yearly decline in the global smartphone shipment is primarily due to the saturation point developed countries such as the US, UK and other European markets have already reached to. This year, the smartphone penetration rate will reach about 73% of the population in the US. Therefore, chances of acquiring a sizable new market by any smartphone vendor are quite minimal. Besides, the lukewarm response by existing smartphone users to the newest generation of higher-priced flagship devices is another reason behind the declining market.
Samsung, once again, emerged as the leader of the global smartphone market in 2017, despite losing out to Apple in the fourth quarter. The company has shipped total 317.3 million units of smartphones in 2017, registering a 1.9% YoY growth. On the flip side, in Q4 2017, Samsung failed to secure its numero uno position which it gained by dethroning Apple in Q3 2017. The Korean mobile giant shipped only 74.1 million devices in Q4 2017.
Despite much criticism of the newly launched iPhone models (iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X), Apple has claimed back the lead position from Samsung, and once again become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer in Q4 2017. During the quarter alone, Apple sold nearly 36% of the total iPhones that were sold in the whole 2017.
Apple sold 77.3 million units of iPhone during Q4 2017 and iPhone X made a significant contribution to the Apple’s phenomenal performance in the quarter. Apple sold 29 million iPhone X, making it the most selling smartphone model of Q4 2017. The edge-to-edge display, a processor optimized for augmented reality and a camera smart enough to allow users to unlock the phone with their face are the greatest achievements of Apple. Although the demand for the world’s most innovative and highly priced iPhone X was lower than the industry analysts expected.
Huawei continues to enjoy the position of the third largest smartphone manufacturer worldwide for the fourth quarter, and the full year of 2017 as well. Chinese OEM shipped 41 million units of smartphones in Q4 2017, with a year-over-year decline of 9.7%. The large part of this growth was driven by its sub-brand Honor, which helped Huawei to ship nearly 153 million units of smartphones, both inside and outside China, during the full year. This year, we can expect a foldable smartphone from Huawei with some exciting features.
Xiaomi Doesn’t Stop Surprising
The biggest surprise has come from the Chinese smartphone player Xiaomi, which registered a mind-blowing 96.9% YoY growth in Q4 2017. With 28.1 million units of smartphone shipment, the company has doubled its market share from just 3.3% in Q4 2016 to 7% in Q4 2017. The meteoric rise of Xiaomi has now slowly become a threat to all Chinese smartphone players and Samsung as well.
After China, India is the second biggest smartphone market for Xiaomi. The company has shipped 8.2 million units of smartphones in India in Q4 2017, that’s an increase of more than 173% YoY. Interestingly, last year, during India’s biggest festive sales, Xiaomi broke all the record by selling over 1 million smartphones in just 2 days. It amounts to 300 smartphones the company sold every single minute for 48 hours straight! Xiaomi Redmi 4, Redmi Note 4, Redmi 5A, etc. are best performing devices that helped Xiaomi to record the mind-blowing sales figures.
It is worth noting that Xiaomi was the only one who witnessed a positive double-digit growth in its global smartphone shipments in Q4 2017.
The growth of Xiaomi has also been phenomenal during the full year of 2017. The Chinese smartphone vendor shipped a total of 92.4 million units in 2017, resulting in a year-over-year growth of 74.5%. The company is constantly strengthening its market presence by expanding its retail presence. By adding more preferred partners and launching new Mi Stores, Xiaomi looks unstoppable, at least for now.
Likes of Xiaomi, another Chinese player Oppo has also successfully managed to gain a foothold in other Asian countries including India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In Q4 2017, Oppo slipped down to 5th position in the list of top five smartphone company, with 27.4 million units shipped worldwide. On the other hand, it managed to maintain the 4th position by selling a total of 111.8 million units of smartphones during the full year of 2017. That’s a significant increase of 12% year-over-year. Thanks to its ‘Selfie Expert Series‘ devices.
Surprisingly, in 2017, it was only Xiaomi and Oppo, whose smartphone shipments share soared to double-digit. According to the latest news, the company is also working on a foldable display phone and filed a patent application in China as well.
In nutshell, the global smartphone industry is going through a radical shift. The yearly and quarterly performance of smartphone vendors indicate rising demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphones at the global level. Probably, that’s the main reason, unlike Apple and Samsung, the Chinese players Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo are more focused on entry and budget smartphone market.
Despite all the challenges the opportunity window is quite big for all the vendors as nearly one-third of the world’s population is expected to own a smartphone in 2018.