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Chinese trio now accounting for nearly a quarter of all smartphone sales

24 May 2017

Mobile phone buyers are spending more to get better phones, driving the average selling prices up – with the number of phones being sold also on the rise.

New figures from Gartner show global smartphone sales hit 380 million in the first quarter of 2017, a 9.1% increase on the same period a year ago, with Samsung and Apple leading the pack, but Chinese vendors including Huawei, Oppo and Vivo champing at their heels as the shift in buyer preference benefits them.

Samsung’s smartphone sales declined 3.1% for the period to 20.7% and 79 million shipments, with flat iPhone sales also leading to a drop in marketshare for Apple, from 14.8% last year to 13.7%, with 52 million units shipped.

Third placed Huawei, on the other hand, saw market share climb from 8.3% to 9.0% as shipments rose from 29 million to 34 million.

Anshul Gupta, Gartner research director, says the absence of an alternative to Note 7 and fierce competition in the basic smartphone segment are leading Samsung to continuously lose market share.

He says both Samsung and Apple are facing fierce competition from Chinese brands Oppo and Vivo, among others.

Even Huawei isn’t immune to the pressure from its Chinese counterparts, with Gupta noting that while Huawei has steadily held the third spot in worldwide smartphone rankings, Oppo, which launched in New Zealand earlier this year, is gaining ground.

The vendor increased smartphone sales by 94.6% in Q1, achieving the best performance of the quarter, while retaining its top spot in China.

“Oppo continued to rally sales through a large network of bricks and mortar retailers, beating market incumbents such as Samsung and Huawei,” Gupta says.

Gartner says Oppo’s strategy, which is centred around the camera, fast chargin and offline retail, is reaping benefits for the vendor, which garnered 8.1% market share in Q1 – and some 31 million shipments – up from 4.6% share for the same period in 2016.

Vivo too is on the charge, selling almost 26 million smartphones – up 84.6% –to take 6.8% market share.

Gupta says the top three Chinese vendors – Huawei, Oppo and Vivo – are driving sales with their competitively priced, high quality smartphones with innovative features.

 “Furthermore, aggressive marketing and sales promotion have further helped these brands to take share from other brands in markets such as India, Indonesia and Thailand,” Gupta says.

The three saw a combined market share of 24% in Q1 – up seven percentage points year on year.

On the operating system side, Gartner says the battle is now clearly between Android and iOS with other OS’s barely getting a look in. Android’s share was up 2% to 86.1%, with Apple down to 13.7%, and the remaining OS’s registering just 0.2% share.

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