Global smartphone sales grew 4.96% during the fourth quarter of 2018 according to data from research firm, Gartner. According to the data, smartphone sales reached 408.4 million units across the globe. This is a far superior number than the 389.07 million units sold in the third quarter of 2018.
As impressive as this growth sounds, evidence also suggests that smartphone sales are stalling globally. Although 408.4 million devices were sold in Q4 2018, it’s only 0.1% better than the 407.845 million devices sold in Q4 2017.
Interestingly, Q4 is the same period where big names brands like Apple and Google unveil new devices. Q4 is also a festive period of the year and it’s expected that sales should be higher during this period.
However, 2018 saw a different trend play out.
Narrowly speaking though, despite this decline, the top five biggest smartphone makers remained unchanged. Samsung, Apple, Huawei, OPPO and Xiaomi represent the five biggest smartphone makers in the world.
However the Gartner data reveals that Apple and Samsung saw the biggest declines in Q4 year-on-year. Although Samsung sold 70 million devices in Q4 2018, this was a notable decline from the 74 million units it sold in the same Q4 of 2017. Apple meanwhile sold just 64.5 million units, compared to the 73 million units it recorded in the same quarter in 2017.
Xiaomi also took a slight haircut during this period compared to the previous year. The company sold 27.8 million devices in Q4, which is slightly less than the 28 million units it sold the previous year.
Meanwhile Huawei and OPPO, two other Chinese manufacturers, recorded impressive growths during the quarter. Huawei sales grew to 60.4 million in Q4, an impressive increase from the 43.9 million it recorded in 2017. OPPO sold 31.6 million units between October and December.
Why Are Big Brands Losing Sales?
One noticeable impact of the decline in Samsung and Apple sales is the drop in their respective market shares. Apple’s market share has dropped to 13.4% from 14%. And Samsung’s share has dropped from 20.9% to 19%.
One explanation for the decline of these two big brands is the lack of innovation. According to Gartner, “incremental innovation at the high end” has slowed significantly, “coupled with prices increases.” In other words, high end devices come at high prices, but offer very few important features compared to older devices.
Added to this, users are increasingly sticking to older devices than replacing them with new releases.
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