The overall global smartphone market declined for the first time in 2018, registering 4% drop from 1,558.8 million unit shipments in 2017 to 1,498.3 million units in 2018, said Counterpoint Research. The fourth quarter smartphone shipments for 2018 recorded a decline of 7%, marking it the fifth consecutive quarter of smartphone decline.
Samsung had 19% share, followed by Apple and Huawei, both at 14%, globally. Xiaomi with 8% market share was fourth. "The decline in smartphone shipments can be attributed to lengthening replacement cycles in developed markets like US, China and Western Europe," said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.
Smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) tried to push sales by adding features such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), multiple camera assemblies, full-screen displays and on-screen fingerprint scanners, etc. "But consumers held on to their devices longer due to the absence of ground-breaking innovations and higher prices of devices being offered by the OEMs," Pathak added.
Huawei, OPPO and Vivo continue to dominate with strong performances in China, India, Asia and parts of Europe. Samsung and Apple saw tough times as demand for their flagship phones waned due to competition from affordable yet premium phones from Chinese brands such as Huawei and OnePlus, the report said.
"The collective smartphone shipment growth of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and others was not enough to offset the decline in China, which was responsible for almost one-third of global smartphone shipments in 2018," said Research Analyst Shobhit Srivastava.
Xiaomi reached a record fourth position, surpassing Oppo for the full year after two years of setbacks thanks to immense growth in India. "BBK Group (which owns OPPO, Realme, Vivo and OnePlus brands) is collectively the world's third largest manufacturer, even bigger than Huawei in terms of volume," said the report. Huawei continued to have its sights on Apple and should surpass Apple as the second largest brand globally in 2019, if it does not face any sanctions from the US the way ZTE was cut-off from American suppliers, noted the report.