Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9% increase over the same period in 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com). Smartphone sales represented 78% of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016, notes the research group.
Sales were driven by demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets and for affordable 4G smartphones, led by 4G connectivity promotion plans from communications service providers (CSPs) in many markets worldwide.
“In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands’ long-standing business models to increase their share,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands. Two Chinese brands ranked within the top five worldwide smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2015, and represented 11% of the market. In the first quarter of 2016, there were three Chinese brands – Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi – and they achieved 17% of the market.”
Oppo had the best performance in the quarter, moving into the No. 4 position with unit sales growth of 145 percent. Like Huawei and Xiaomi, Oppo saw strong growth in China, taking share from players such as Lenovo, Samsung and Yulong. Huawei saw strong smartphone demand in Europe, the Americas and Africa, while Xiaomi and Oppo saw their smartphone sales in emerging Asia/Pacific rise by 20% and 199%, respectively.
In the first quarter of 2016, Samsung extended its lead over Apple with 23% market share. Apple had its first double-digit decline year on year, with iPhone sales down 14%. However, the company’ss “upgrade program” in the U.S. has helped sweeten its flagship iPhone 6s and 6s plus model pricing to drive sales in its largest smartphone market, according to Gartner. Apple is also exploring ways to refarm second-hand iPhones coming through the program in emerging markets.
Lenovo disappeared from the top five smartphone vendor ranking as well as the top 10 mobile phone vendor market in the first quarter of 2016. In terms of the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android regained share over iOS and Windows to achieve 84% share.