Samsung loses ground and Apple makes big gains in the world's number two smartphone market


While we continue to wait for the global smartphone sales numbers of 2019's final three months to be released to see just how poorly the market has performed last year compared to an already pretty bad 2018, Counterpoint Research is out with a new report focusing on one of the few major countries where shipments are still growing.

We're talking about India, which apparently surpassed the US for the first time ever on an annual level to become the world's second-largest smartphone market. All in all, 158 million smartphones were shipped in India in 2019, according to Counterpoint's freshly updated estimates, improving the nation's 2018 total by a solid 7 percent. That may not sound like much, but it's actually a higher number than the expected 5G-driven growth rate of the global mobile industry over the next couple of years.

Interestingly, regional shipments surged during Q4 2019 by the same exact 7 percent rate, but while similar, the top five vendors chart for last quarter and last year were not altogether identical. That's because Samsung fell to third place between October and December, behind Xiaomi and Vivo and ahead of Oppo and Realme, while clinging on to a silver medal spot for the entire year, behind Xiaomi but beating Vivo in addition to Realme and Oppo.


It's perhaps needless to point out that four of these top five smartphone vendors in India are largely unknown to US audiences, contributing to a record 72 percent combined share of the world's number two market for all Chinese brands. 

Samsung, which used to lead the market comfortably just a few years ago, lost a substantial 3 percentage points in share between 2018 and 2019, having to settle for only 21 percent of the pie at the end of the year. On the (somewhat) bright side of things, the company did manage to stop the bleeding in the October - December 2019 timeframe, reporting stagnant shipment scores thanks primarily to the success of its new Galaxy M and A-series mid-rangers.


Due to its exclusive focus on high-end products, Apple can't escape the inclusion in the "others" category of these market reports, but thanks to "multiple" recent iPhone XR price cuts, the Cupertino-based tech giant became "one of the fastest-growing brands" in India during Q4 2019. Unfortunately, we don't know what kind of growth we're talking about here, but it must be pretty significant seeing how Vivo and Oppo improved their numbers by a massive 132 and 96 percent respectively in the quarter compared to the last 90 days of the previous year.

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