Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users reached 336 million units, an increase of 19.3% during the first quarter of 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com). And Apple became the number one smartphone vendor in China for the first time.
Smartphone growth was led by strong smartphone sales in emerging markets (excluding China); the fastest growing regions were emerging Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa. Due to these high-performing regions, the emerging markets achieved a 40 percent increase in sales during the first quarter of 2015.
“During this quarter, local brands and Chinese vendors came out as the key winners in emerging markets,” says Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “These vendors recorded an average growth of 73 percent in smartphone sales and saw their combined share go up from 38 percent to 47 percent during the first quarter of 2015.”
Apple continued to exhibit a strong performance in the quarter, particularly in China. iPhone sales were up 72.5 percent during the first quarter of 2015, making Apple the number one smartphone vendor in China — just ahead of Xiaomi — for the first time. Greater China also became Apple’s largest volume market, ahead of North America, thanks to strong sales in China during the first quarter of 2015.
“Apple’s extension into more Asian markets helped it close the gap with Samsung globally. In the same period last year, there was a difference of more than 40 million units with Samsung; this difference has been halved, within one year, to just over 20 million units,” says Gupta.
Among the top five global smartphone vendors, Samsung continued to see a decline in sales and share during the first quarter of 2015. In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android’s share fell by 1.9 percentage points, while iOS grew year-on-year for the third consecutive quarter.
“Strong iPhone sales in China during the first quarter of 2015 had an impact on Android’s performance in that country. Android’s volumes fell by 4% year-on-year in China for the first time,” says Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.