iPhone bucks global smartphone market downward trend

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IDC global smartphone market
A sequential chart shows Apple was briefly at the top of the global smartphone market, but not in Q1.
Photo: Cult of Mac/IDC

The total number of smartphones shiped worldwide in the first quarter of the year declined, but Apple was immune, experiencing a small increase. Its share of the global market grew as a result.

Arch-rival Samsung was hit though, seeing a small decrease year over year despite the launch of its new flagship models.

Analysts parsed the number to give their explanations for the overall decline in the global smartphone market.

“Globally, as well as in China, a key bellwether, smartphone consumers are trading up to more premium devices, but there are no longer as many new smartphone converts, resulting in shipments dropping,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director with market-research firm IDC.

Tarun Pathak at Counterpoint Research had a slightly different take. “The waning smartphone demand is due to a slow-down in developed markets where replacement cycles are lengthening with overall smartphone features and design reaching its peak.”

Results by company

As Apple announced yesterday, all the gloomy predictions about the iPhone X were wrong, and the company had a fine Q1. It shipped 52.2 million smartphones, which IDC indicates was 15.5 percent of the entire world market. That’s up from a 14.7 percent share in Q1 of last year, according to IDC.

Samsung saw its shipments decline by 2.4 percent in the first three months of this year when compared to the same period of 2017. Still, it moved enough to hold onto 23.4 percent of the global market.

Apple had surpassed Samsung during the holiday shopping season, but the Korean company came back in Q1 with the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. “Although the new flagships shipped late in the quarter, brisk initial sales of the new devices kept the overall yearly decline at a minimum,” reported IDC.

IDC global smartphone market
Details on the top five smartphone makers for Q1 2018.
Photo: IDC

The remaining companies in the top five are all from China, indicating how strong this country’s smartphone market has become. Huawei captured 11.8 percent of global shipments, Xiaomi had 8.4 percent, and OPPO 7.1 percent, according to IDC.

The rest of the top 10, according to Counterpoint Research, are vivo, LG, Lenovo/Motorola, ZTE, and iTel.