The global smartphone market has shrunk YoY for the second consecutive quarter in Q1 2018, according to the latest report from Counterpoint Research. The Korean tech giant Samsung has leapfrogged Apple to become the number one smartphone brand in the first quarter. Samsung shipped 78 million units of smartphones, with a market share of 21.7%. As per the report, the smartphone shipments worldwide have followed the trend of the previous quarter and showed 3% YoY decline, reaching 360 million units in Q1 2018.
Samsung’s shipment grew 5% QoQ with the launch of its latest flagship, Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. Samsung holds 30% market share in Latin America which remains a healthy market for the company. The Korean maker continues to struggle in China as shipments dropped over 50% in Q1 2018. On the other hand, Apple is still one of the favourites in China as its iPhone shipments grew 32% YoY in the region due to strong response of the iPhone X. Globally, Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones, showed a 3% YoY growth in Q1 2018.
The diminishing smartphone demand is due to a slowdown in developed nations where high-specced and premium devices are likely to be preferred more. However, the smartphone penetration in emerging markets is around just 45% and that’s why OEMs can expand and make sizable gains in these regions.
China’s market has slowed down and that has adversely affected the performance of Chinese OEMs in the home market. The saturation in China’s smartphone market has put a pressure on Chinese makers to invest and expand beyond their home ground. Only the emerging markets can be profitable for Chinese brands as their annual growth has upscaled only in Middle East & Africa (MEA) and declined in other geographies. The top 10 global smartphone players account for 76% of the market and surprisingly 7 of them are China-based.
Huawei, at the third spot after Apple, has registered 14% YoY growth in shipments in Q1 2018 even though growth in home market slowed down considerably. Huawei shipped 39.3 million units of smartphones during the March quarter and grabbed a market share of 10.9%. The company experienced impressive growth in India (+146%), Europe (+46%) and MEA (+38%).
Xiaomi, the fastest growing Chinese brand, has shown a strong growth of over 101% YoY in Q1 2018 and replaced Oppo to take the fourth spot in the top 10. Xiaomi shipped 27 million units of smartphones in the first quarter and captured a market share of 7.5%. The company growth has been driven by strong sales in India (+134%) and China (+51%).
iTel, a smartphone brand under Transsion Holdings, has entered the top 10 smartphone list for the first time in Q1 2018.
Other key findings from the report –
- Smartphone penetration slid to 76% of all mobile phones shipped in the first quarter, partly due to an upsurge in demand of feature phones by key manufacturers like Nokia HMD.
- Oppo and Vivo saw a decline in global shipments in Q1 2018 for the first time mainly due to China market slowdown. Oppo and Vivo currently hold the market share of 6.1% and 5.4%, respectively.
- LG smartphone shipments declined both annually (-23%) and quarterly (-18%) in the first quarter. The company hardly managed to ship 11.4 million units of smartphones.
- Lenovo (including Motorola) was hit by a 24% YoY decline in the first quarter and holds a market share of 2.4%.
- ZTE’s growth continues to struggle as the US component ban came as an added disadvantage which has led to declining market share.
- Transsion Holding, the group company of three smartphone brands – iTel, Tecno and Infinix, shipped over 10 million units in Q1 2018. Where iTel has shipped 4.6 million units in Q1 2018, with a huge growth of 213% YoY.