Because Apple dominates the smartphone market in the U.S., it’s easy to forget that the company only has the silver medal worldwide. Even with 74.8 million iPhones sold last quarter, Samsung continues to dominate the worldwide market. In Q4 2015 and in all of 2015, the South Korean company shipped more smartphones than any other firm.
Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 399.5 million smartphones worldwide last quarter, a 5.7 percent growth year over year. In 2015, the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1432.9 million units shipped — a record number of shipments for one year — up 10.1 percent from the 1,301.7 million units shipped in 2014. The latest figures come from IDC, which summarized its findings in the following two charts.
First, for Q4 2015:
And secondly, for the full year:
Interestingly, Samsung actually grew its lead over Apple between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015 (from 0.2 percentage points to 2.7 percentage points). But between the full years, the gap narrowed from 9.6 percentage points to 6.5 percentage points. Put another way, Samsung shipped 125.5 million more smartphones than Apple in 2014, but just 93.3 million more than Apple in 2015.
Unless something drastic happens, Samsung should be able to hold onto its lead over Apple in 2016. But this year could turn into a three-horse race, as Huawei last year managed to cross into 9-digit figures. In fact, Huawei in 2015 became the fourth mobile phone vendor in history to ship over 100 million smartphones in a year (preceded only by Nokia, Samsung, and Apple).
“Usually the conversation in the smartphone market revolves around Samsung and Apple, but Huawei’s strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand,” IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau said in a statement. “While there is a lot of uncertainty around the economic slowdown in China, Huawei is one of the few brands from China that has successfully diversified worldwide, with almost half of its shipments going outside of China. Huawei is poised to be in a good position to hold onto a strong number 3 over the next year.”
Indeed, Huawei was the biggest winner in 2015, thanks to 44.3 percent growth according to IDC. Lenovo and Xiaomi didn’t disappoint either, with 24.5 percent and 22.8 percent growth, respectively.
The Chinese trio accounted for 17.5 percent of 2015’s smartphone pie. That’s more than Apple, and just 5 percentage points behind Samsung. Last year, their combined share was just below Apple’s.