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Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 428.5 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up 6.9 percent from the 400.7 million units in Q4 2016. Last year consisted of two flat quarters in a row, followed by one quarter of slight growth, and now finally an unmistakable increase. Oh, and Apple managed to beat Samsung by some 800,000 smartphone shipments.
In Q4 2016, the American company shipped more smartphones than any other vendor, including its South Korean competitor. This is a big deal, given that not so long ago, Samsung would out-ship the next two smartphone makers — Apple and Huawei — combined. The latest quarterly figures come from IDC (though Strategy Analytics shared similar results), which summarized its findings in the following chart:
As you can see above, Apple’s market share slipped 0.4 percentage points (from 18.7 percent to 18.3 percent), despite a return to growth in smartphone shipments (up 3.5 million). More importantly, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus delivered, putting the company back on top even though 2016 marked the first full year of declining shipments for the iPhone, with a 7 percent year-over-year drop.
“There’s no question that 2016 marked a memorable year for the smartphone industry in many ways,” IDC program vice president Ryan Reith said in a statement. “This was a year that brought us the first down year for iPhone, yet Apple closed out the holiday quarter by surpassing Samsung for the top spot in the smartphone industry. We also witnessed year-over-year declines in some emerging regions like the Middle East and Latin America where high growth was expected. To round it all off, we now have a three horse race at the top of the market as Huawei cracked the double-digit share mark for the first time ever.”
Samsung’s market share dropped 2.3 percentage points (from 20.4 percent to 18.1 percent) as it shipped 4.2 million fewer smartphones (72.5 million). Samsung typically owns about a fifth of the market, but this time it did not manage to grab that much (this is the first time it fell below 20 percent in over four years). IDC believes the success of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, as well as its more affordable J Series, helped maintain volumes despite the Note7 fiasco. In 2016, Samsung saw a 3 percent drop for the full year.
Huawei grabbed 2.4 points (to 10.6 percent), Oppo jumped 3.7 points (to 7.3 percent), and Vivo gained 2.8 points (to 5.8 percent). While the Android and iOS duopoly doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, the Samsung-Apple duopoly is continuing to erode, as value-packed devices from China offer the latest features at a fraction of the cost.
In fact, Huawei’s gains are particularly impressive, as the quarter marked the first time the Chinese giant captured double-digit share. For the year, Huawei’s shipments were up 30.2 percent thanks to its P series and Honor sub-brand. The other two Chinese brands, which pushed out previous fourth- and fifth-place players Lenovo and Xiaomi this year, appear to be here to stay.
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