New reports suggest Samsung claimed two big Q4 2019 wins over Apple and Huawei

New reports suggest Samsung claimed two big Q4 2019 wins over Apple and Huawei
Even though we're approaching the end of the year's first quarter, it appears market research firms are not done releasing interesting reports about the evolution of global smartphone sales in 2019 just yet. While Counterpoint Research, Canalys, and the IDC all came out with their Q4 and full-year estimates more than a month ago, Gartner waited until today to crunch its own numbers... and name a different vendor winner for the final three months of 2019.

At the same time, The Korea Herald is reporting on an overview of the European smartphone market compiled by Counterpoint Research, which provides some interesting albeit unsurprising insight into how things shifted on the old continent following Huawei's Google woes. But let's start from the beginning:

Did Samsung steal Apple's Q4 2019 crown after all?


Although the three aforementioned research firms couldn't agree back in late January on how many smartphones were shipped in total around the world between October and December, Apple ruled all the charts, edging out Samsung by only 2.9 million units in Counterpoint's report, 4.4 million according to the IDC, and a whopping 7.6 million units as measured by Canalys.


But Gartner claims Samsung was the world's number one vendor during the 2019 holiday season, as well as the entire year, with 70.4 million and 296.2 million unit sales respectively. Obviously, no one is disputing the chaebol's overall supremacy last year, when Gartner estimates only a little more than 193 million iPhones were sold, far behind Huawei's 240 million+ tally, not to mention Samsung's towering figures.

As far as Q4 is concerned, the stark contrast between these numbers put together by Gartner and, say, the 78.4 million iPhone shipments estimated by Canalys might be explained by a difference in research methodology. Gartner seems to be tracking "sales to end users", which is not the same thing as shipments. The latter measurement often includes devices shipped by a manufacturer to a retailer before actually ending up in the hands of consumers.

The only logical conclusion we can draw here is that Apple overestimated iPhone demand around the holidays, which helped the company take the global shipment trophy while losing the sales game to its arch-rival. Still, the Cupertino-based tech giant can arguably be happy with its Q4 2019 sales performance, which marked a solid improvement from the same period of the previous year.


Ironically, that can't be said about Samsung's sales numbers, which declined slightly from 70.8 million units. Huawei and Oppo's figures dropped by a significantly larger extent, while Xiaomi enjoyed double digit growth, finishing in fourth place. Xiaomi and Oppo were ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the full-year chart as well, with Huawei sitting in second place and impressively boosting its overall scores despite US sanctions and many controversies surrounding possible spying and various user privacy concerns.

Samsung thrived in Europe at Huawei's expense


Huawei may have managed to end 2019 with a remarkable total driven in large part by domestic sales, but its European popularity was severely impacted by the US - China trade war. As expected, plenty of people on the old continent care about Google services and apps, and in their absence, it looks like many buyers opted for Samsung in favor of Huawei handsets during Q4.


Counterpoint Research claims that resulted in a 2 percent year-on-year market share surge for Samsung, from 25 to 27 percentage points. Unfortunately, the full report doesn't appear to be out just yet, so we don't know exactly how big were Huawei and Apple's slices of the European pie in the October - December 2019 timeframe.

What we do know is that Samsung struggled across regions like Middle East-Africa, Central and South America, and even North America, so Europe crucially helped the company keep its global numbers relatively steady amid mounting pressure from brands like Oppo and Realme in key emerging markets. 

Looking ahead, the world's top smartphone vendor is expected to see "stable growth this year", although it's not entirely clear if this prediction takes production slowdowns and other issues caused by the coronavirus epidemic into consideration.

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