After years of sales growth it has become clear as a day that the smartphone industry is experiencing a small crisis – a report by Canalys shows that in 2018 a total of 1.39 billion smartphones were sold, down 4.6% compared to the previous year. It’s the biggest decline in the industry's history, showing that the mobile market has become largely saturated. However, this does not mean that competition between manufacturers has also slowed down – on the contrary, it has become even more fierce.
Samsung remains the market leader with 293.7 million smartphones sold last year, 7.2% less than a year ago. These losses, however, had a minimal impact on the company’s overall share in the market (down from 21.8 to 21.2%). Apple ranks second (15.3%), followed by Huawei (14.8%).
The top five also include two other Chinese companies – Xiaomi and Oppo – and all companies from China can boast significant sales growth. While Oppo increased sales by 6.9%, Xiaomi improved its result by 31.6%, and Huawei by as much as 34.5%. The situation of the other producers not mentioned by name in this list is more worrying – in total they sold 23% less smartphones than in 2017.
The situation is slightly different if we consider only the Q4 2018. In this period, 362.5 million devices were delivered to end users, i.e. as much as 6.3% less than in the corresponding period a year earlier (recording a drop for the fifth quarter in a row). The leader was Apple, which sold 71.7 million iPhones – the increased interest is, of course, an effect of the market release of new models, among which the most popular was iPhone XR, i.e. the cheapest of the debuting devices. However, this does not change the fact that the company achieved a result worse by 7.3% than the result for the same period last year, so the release of the new devices was not entirely successful.
On the other side of the barricade, there is Huawei, which recorded excellent results – smartphone sales increased by 47.3% (60.5 million compared to 41.1 million in Q4 2017), which allowed the company to improve its share on the market from 10.6 to 16.7%. The second place in the ranking belongs to Samsung, which recorded a sales drop of 5.3%.
It cannot be denied that the mobile industry will undergo further transformations in 2019 – the pace of Huawei's development is particularly interesting in the context of accusations against the company made by the American side and many incidents, among which it is worth mentioning the arrest of the sales director of the company's Polish branch on the charge of espionage. Xiaomi will certainly record a good year, and Samsung faces a considerable challenge to change its market strategy in order to return to the growth path.
- Canalys report