Mon, Feb 04, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Samsung, Apple lose market share

By Chen Cheng-hui  /  Staff reporter

An Apple Inc employee holds an iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Francisco on June 7, 2010.

Photo: AFP

Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc, the world’s largest and second-largest smartphone vendors respectively, saw their shipments and market shares continue to narrow in the final quarter of last year amid challenging market conditions and increased competition from Chinese brands, a survey by International Data Corp (IDC) showed.

In the October-to-December quarter, Samsung shipped 70.4 million smartphones for a market share of 18.7 percent, while Apple shipped 68.4 million for a market share of 18.2 percent, the US-based research firm reported in a survey released on Wednesday last week.

The numbers were down from 74.5 million units for a market share of 18.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 for Samsung and from 77.3 million units and a market share of 19.6 percent for Apple, IDC said.

Chinese brands, including Huawei Technologies Co (華為), Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp (歐珀) and Xiaomi Corp (小米), continued to perform well, despite market headwinds.

Last quarter, Huawei shipped 60.5 million smartphones for a market share of 16.1 percent, Oppo seized 7.8 percent of the market with 29.2 million units in shipments, while Xiaomi’s market share rose to 7.6 percent after shipping 28.6 million smartphones, IDC tallies showed.

Nonetheless, the market in China as a whole, which accounts for roughly 30 percent of the world’s smartphone consumption, also fared worse last year, with shipments declining more than 10 percent from the previous year, the data showed.

IDC attributed the decline to high inventories and weakening consumer spending.

Overall, smartphone brands shipped a total of 375.4 million units worldwide last quarter, down 4.9 percent from the same period in 2017, the fifth consecutive quarter of decline, IDC said.

The disappointing results of the holiday quarter saw total shipments last year decline 4.1 percent year-on-year to 1.4 billion units, while the likelihood of a shrinking market this year is increasing as negative factors — such as lengthening replacement cycles, growing saturation in large markets and slacking consumer demand for higher-priced models — continue to be a factor, it said.

“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” Ryan Reith, vice president of IDC’s mobile device tracking program, said in a statement. “Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, [South] Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.”

Despite speculations that the arrival of 5G and foldable smartphones this year could bring new life to the industry, Anthony Scarsella, research manager for IDC’s mobile phone tracking, said it depends on how handset brands and telecom carriers promote the benefits of these technologies, as the new devices are likely to be more expensive.

“To combat this, carriers and retailers will need to fully maximize trade-in offers for older devices as a type of subsidy to push upgrades throughout 2019,” Scarsella said in a statement.

For this quarter, global smartphone production volume is forecast to drop by 10 percent year-on-year to 307 million units as major brands continue inventory adjustments, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said on Tuesday last week.

As major markets have become saturated and consumers favor economically priced but high-specification devices, handset brands will continue to pursue hardware optimization in the immediate term to secure market share, TrendForce said.

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