iPhone sales drop double digits as rivals thrive

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iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS is thought to be too similar to the iPhone X to sell well.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple just finished its third consecutive quarter with declining year-over-year iPhone sales. That’s left the company solidly in third place behind Samsung and Huawei, both of whom saw an uptick.

Some analysts blame Apple’s problem on a lack of innovation in the 2018 iPhone models.

iPhone sales still slumping

Apple no longer reveals exactly how many handsets it sells each quarter, just how much revenue it takes in from those sales. That leaves it up to analysts to estimate.

For the most part, there’s general agreement. Counterpoint Research says Apple shipped 36.4 million units during the April-June period, an 11.9% year-over-year drop. Canalys’ figures are just slightly different: 36.0 million iPhones shipped for a 13% drop.

That’s close to Apple’s statement that iPhone revenue dropped 13.1% YoY. IDC is a definite outlier by saying Apple shipped only 33.8 million units for an 18.2% drop.

Some blame three quarters of decline on a lack of innovation in last year’s handsets. “Its newest suite of devices, the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max, are not differentiated enough to prompt its expanding installed base of customers to upgrade, while recent price cuts and an increased rate of trade-in has not been enough to offset the decline,” noted Canalys.

The iPhone is important to Apple’s bottom line but not critical. Improving sales of iPad, Mac and other products allowed it to inch out an overall revenue increase last quarter, even setting a new record.

Good news for Samsung and Huawei phones

As with Apple, no other phone maker announces how many handsets are sold each quarter. Analysts have estimates, though.

Canalys phone shipments 2017 - 2019
iPhone sales experience a lot of seasonality, but have been struggling recently.
Chart: Canalys

No matter who you ask, Samsung is the world’s top phone maker. Counterpoint and Canalys agree it shipped 76.9 million units, while IDC says 75.5 million. That’s an increase of 5.5% to 7.1%, depending on the source.

There was a time Apple was the world’s second-largest phone maker, but Huawei has surpassed it. The Chinese company shipped 54.2 million handsets during Q2 according to Counterpoint, while both IDC and Canalys peg the figure at 58.7 million. That’s a 4.6% to 8.3% rise, depending on which market-analysis firm you ask.

That said, the Trump Administration using Huawei as a bargaining chip in its trade war with China could affect future sales.