New Delhi: Global sales of smartphones to end users stood at 408 million units in the December quarter of 2017, a decline of 5.6% from 432 million a year ago, research firm Gartner said.
Sales fell because consumers held on to their handsets longer, and also turned to feature phones, Gartner said in a report released on Thursday.
Interestingly, this is the first year-on-year decline since Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004.
“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," Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said in the statement.
Samsung, which sold 74.02 million smartphones in the December quarter against 76.78 million a year ago, retained its number one position with 18.2% market share worldwide.
Launches of its next flagship devices are likely to boost Samsung’s smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018, the report said, adding that although Samsung’s significant sales volumes lean toward mid-price and entry-level models, which now face extreme competition and reducing contribution, its profit and average selling price may further improve if upcoming flagship smartphones are successful.
Apple, too, recorded lower sales. The US-based company sold 73.17 million smartphones in the December quarter against 77.03 million a year ago. With 17.9% market share, Apple ranks second in the global smartphone sales in the December quarter.
“Apple had three new smartphones — the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X — yet its performance in the quarter was overshadowed by two factors. First, 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 ansd manufacturing capacity constraints preceded a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X, which returned to normal by early December 2017. We expect good demand for the iPhone X to likely bring a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018," Gupta said.
Apple is followed by Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo, with 10.8%, 6.9% and 6.3% market share respectively. Interestingly, Huawei and Xiaomi have both sold more smartphones in the December quarter compared to a year ago.
While Huawei saw sales rise to 43.88 million smartphones in the fourth quarter against 40.80 million a year ago, Xiaomi saw sales almost double to 28.18 million in the December quarter from 15.75 million in the same quarter a year ago.
This has also led to a jump in Xiaomi’s share of the total market to 6.9% in the December quarter from 3.6% a year ago.
“Xiaomi’s biggest market outside China is India, where it will continue to see high growth. Increasing sales in Indonesia and other markets in emerging Asia Pacific region will position Xiaomi as a strong global brand," Gupta said.
For the entire calendar year 2017, smartphone sales to end users totaled over 1.5 billion units, an increase of 2.7% from 2016.