Gartner: Worldwide Smartphone Sales decline for the first time

Global smartphone sales Samsung smartphones Gartner report MWC 2018 Apple iPhones feature phones Huawei Apple iPhone X Xiaomi flagship devices

Sales declined by 5.6 percent to 408 millions in the fourth quarter of 2017, the first time since the research and advisory company started tracking the global smartphone market 14 years ago.

It reported global sales of almost 408 million smartphones in the final three months of 2017, down 5.6 per cent versus the same quarter a year earlier.

Fewer people are switching their feature phones to smartphones "due to a lack of quality "ultra-low-cost" smartphones" and instead are buying nicer feature phones, Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta said Thursday.

In Q4 2016, smartphone sales topped out at about 432 million units sold.

Global smartphone sales have declined for the first time since 2004, according to research from Gartner.

Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to achieve a year-on-year unit growth (7.6 and 79 per cent, respectively) and grew market share in the quarter.

Xiaomi sold 28.188 million units of smartphones in the fourth quarter of past year, making up for 6.9 percent of the global market shares.

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The combined market share of Chinese vendors has increased by 4.2 percent, while Samsung and Apple's market share as the top companies is unchanged.

Launches of its next flagship devices are likely to boost Samsung's smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018, the report said, adding that although Samsung's significant sales volumes lean toward mid-price and entry-level models, which now face extreme competition and reducing contribution, its profit and average selling price may further improve if upcoming flagship smartphones are successful.

Gartner attributes some of the slowdown in Q4 to the aging of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, with the S9 set to debut at the Mobile World Congress, as well as some confusion over Apple's release of three new models of iPhone and supply shortages for iPhone X.

Gartner says it's expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018, now that the flagship's delivery cycle has returned to normal. In fact, Huawei and Xiaomi were the only manufacturers from the top five which saw a growth in Q4 2017.

While Apple's market share stabilised in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016, iPhone sales fell 5 per cent.

Xiaomi's competitive smartphone portfolio, consisting of its Mi and Redmi models, helped accelerate its growth in the emerging Asia/Pacific (APAC) market. The other strategy of Xiaomi should be in increasing sales in Indonesia and other developing telecom markets in emerging APAC in order to position it as a strong global brand.

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