Smartphone sales decline for first time ever in 2017

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iPhone X
iPhone X didn't come out early enough to give Apple a sales boost.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The world may have passed its peak smartphone moment last year.

Smartphone sales data released today from the number crunchers at Gartner revealed that worldwide smartphone sales declined for the first time ever during the last quarter of 2017. Both Apple and Samsung saw their market share decline just slightly, but good news could be on the horizon.

Gartner
Huawei and Xiaomi were the only vendors that saw growth.
Photo: Gartner

Samsung and Apple slip

Gartner’s report shows that manufacturers shipped 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 5.6 percent decline over. It’s the first drop since the company began tracking smartphone sales in 2004.

“Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality “ultra-low-cost” smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones.

Samsung held onto its top spot with the most smartphones sold worldwide. Even though Samsung’s shipments dropped 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 Apple wasn’t able to make up market share. That’s partly due to the iPhone X’s late launch.

“The later availability of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as users waited to try the more-expensive model,” said Anshul Gupta. “Second, component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints preceded a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X, which returned to normal by early December 2017. We expect good demand for the iPhone X to likely bring a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018.”

The report also found that Android and iOS are dominating the smartphone market like never before. Android and iOS now account for 99.9% of all new devices sold. Of the 1.5 billion smartphones sold in 2017, only 1.5 million were Windows, Blackberry or other devices.