Global sales of smartphones to end users totalled over 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017 -- a 5.6 per cent decline over the fourth quarter of 2016, Gartner has said. Samsung secure the top spot with 18.2 per cent marker share in Q4 2017, followed by Apple with 18.9 per cent market share.
Samsung saw a year-on-year unit decline of 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, but this did not prevent it from defending the top spot in global smartphone vendor position against Apple.
"Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017. First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones,” said Anshul Gupta, Research Director at Gartner.
With 10.8 per cent share, Huawei stood third, Xiaomi was at third with 6.9 per cent share.
Despite the start of a slowdown in sales of Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+, the overall success of those models has helped Samsung improve overall average selling price. Samsung is poised to announce the successors to its Galaxy series of smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year. The launches of its next flagship devices are likely to boost Samsung's smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018.
While Apple's market share stabilised in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016, iPhone sales fell five percent.
Apple was in a different position this quarter than it was 12 months before. It had three new smartphones — the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X — yet its performance in the quarter was overshadowed by two factors, Gupta said, adding that the later availability of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as users waited to try the more-expensive model. Second, component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints preceded a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X, which returned to normal by early December 2017.
Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to achieve year-on-year unit growth (7.6 and 79 per cent, respectively) and grew market share in the quarter.
Xiaomi's competitive smartphone portfolio, consisting of its Mi and Redmi models, helped accelerate its growth in the emerging Asia/Pacific (APAC) market. It also helped Xiaomi win back lost share in China.
In 2017 as a whole, smartphone sales to end users totalled over 1.5 billion units, an increase of 2.7 per cent from 2016. Huawei, ranked third, raised its share in 2017 and continues to gain on Apple. At the same time, the combined market share of the Chinese vendors in the top five increased by 4.2 percentage points, while the market share of top two, Samsung and Apple, remained unchanged.
In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Google's Android extended its lead by capturing 86 per cent of the total market in 2017. This is up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago.