2018 was the first year with a continuous decline in smartphone shipments, research shows
Starting from the smaller picture, Q4 of 2018 was marked by a 7% decline compared to the same period of 2017, with manufacturers shipping a total of 395 million units during the quarter. Looking at last year as a whole, the drop was “only” 4%, but the results were in the negative for every quarter, making 2018 the first year without a rise in shipments, after the decline first started in Q4 of 2017. That’s 15 consecutive months of market shrinkage.
As reasons for these results, specialists point out the fact that consumers are holding to their existing phones longer and the significant drop in sales in China that couldn’t be compensated by emerging markets such as India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
But while the overall stats point to a stagnant market, the volatility within it proves that things are far from settled. According to the report, Samsung and Apple delivered 8 and 4% fewer smartphones respectively, which is still far better than LG, which saw a drop of 26% YoY.
On the other end of the spectrum are Huawei and Xiaomi, gaining 34 and 26% in units sold, but percentage-wise they’re both beaten by HMD Global, which shipped more than two times more Nokia-branded smartphones in 2018 than in 2017, improving 126%. While that sounds impressive, it translates to 17.5 million units sold, over 10 times less than each of the top 5 manufacturers.
In terms of market share, Samsung remains on top with 19%, Apple and Huawei breathing down its neck with 14% each. The second tier is composed of Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo with around 8% each, followed by the LG and Lenovo with meager 3% of their own. For the first time since its Android era began, Nokia now represents 1% of the market. If HMD’s efforts continue to give such positive results, next year the company might overtake LG and Lenovo.
With 5G and some other exciting trends coming in 2019, it will be curious to see how the global market will look at the end of the year.