Smartphone market slumps to lowest in five years

Smartphone market slumps to lowest in five years

Both Apple and Samsung have reported double-digit percent falls in in global smartphone sales for the first quarter of 2019, plunging the sector into the lowest volumes shipped in five years.

Figures released by analyst firm Canalys revealed that 313.9 million handsets were sold in the three months, down by 6.8%. This was the sixth consecutive quarter of decline, in a sector which many believe has given little reason for consumers to upgrade.

According to the figures Samsung held onto to top spot even though it saw a 10% fall in sales to 71.5 million handsets. As a consequence, their market share fell from 23.6% to 22.8%.

Current national-security bogeyman Huawei sneaked into second spot with a 50% increase in shipments to 59.1 million, giving it an 18.8% market share of sales.

Poor old Apple continued with its woes when it registered a 23.2% decline reducing its market share to 12.8%.

This is the largest single-quarter decline in the history of the iPhone. Apple’s second largest market, China, again proved tough. But this is far from its only problem. Shipments fell in the US as trade-in initiatives failed to offset longer consumer refresh cycles.

In markets such as Europe, Apple is increasingly using discounts to prop up demand, but this is causing additional complexity for distributors, and blurring the value proposition of these ‘premium’ devices in the eyes of consumers.

- Ben Stanton: Research Analyst, Canalys

Apple reported its group results for the three months ending 30th March and revealed a 5% decline in overall sales to $58.02bn. product sales fell 9% and services fell 16%.

In contrast Huawei made the bold statement that they want to be the biggest smartphone seller in the world by 2020. To do so Canalys said they would need to ship a further 10m additional phones than it did in the first quarter.

China smartphone rivals Oppo and Xiaomi are also coming up on the rails after having sold 27.3m and 27.8m phones respectively. Both now have market shares of around 8%.

It came to light recently after research from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union and the World Bank that the number of phones in use now outnumber the world’s population.

Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone has a phone. According to UN figures 1.1 billion people in the world have no access to electricity, meaning charging a phone, let alone owning one would be extremely difficult.

More likely is that many people have more than one phone and of course there are millions of kids who currently don’t have one. Nevertheless, the figures revealed that there were 5.28 billion ‘mobile broadband’ subscriptions at the end of 2018.

And while sales of phones continue to decline, they still outpace the world’s population growth. So, this trend will continue for some time at least.


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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