Gartner reports first-ever drop in smartphone market for Q4

Smartphone sales decline for first time ever

Smartphone sales decline for first time ever

According to research firm Gartner, the global sales of smartphones to end users totaled roughly 408 million units in Q4 2017, a 5.6 percent decline over Q4 2016.

The decline in fourth quarter 2017 sales is the first year-on-year decline as consumers were slower to upgrade their devices, this was despite Apple rolling out a new iPhone 8 offering along with their ill-fated iPhone X. "Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones", Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said in the statement. It reported in April 2016 that its iPhone unit sales fell for the first time ever, and they ended up declining for that full year.

Days out from the biggest mobile phone trade show it's been revealed that sales of smartphones are in decline for the first time since 2004.

The recent Gartner report highlighted that both Huawei and Xiaomi, two Chinese device brands, grew their smartphone business in a tough market.

The South Korean giant though saw a year-on-year unit decline of 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, but this did not prevent it from defending its top global smartphone vendor position against Apple.

In Gartner's Q4 sales stats, Samsung maintained a narrow lead in global volume shipments of smartphones - but every major (top five) vendor outside of those based in China saw unit shipments slip.

Gartner expected strong demand for the iPhone X would likely bring a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018. The introduction of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades for the iPhones 8 and 8 Plus, suggests Gupta, adding component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints - the phone's 3-D sensor that recognizes faces and unlocks the handset were giving Apple partners and laser suppliers headaches - negatively impacted Apple's numbers.

"Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging APAC and the U.S.", said Gupta, "Xiaomi's biggest market outside China is India, where it will continue to see high growth". OPPO is another that made it into the top five of this list that also sold fewer smartphones during this same time period.

"Apple was in a different position this quarter than it was 12 months before", said Gupta.

"Ahead of MWC, several phone manufacturers such as Samsung, HMD (Nokia), Asus and LG have announced that they will launch new Android smartphones".

Xiaomi's competitive smartphone portfolio, consisting of its Mi and Redmi models, helped accelerate its growth in the emerging Asia/Pacific (APAC) market. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2017 (Thousands of Units) Source: Gartner.

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