Apple Inc. Topples Samsung To Lead Global Smartphone Market In Q4

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) bagged the topmost position in the fourth-quarter of 2017, according to IDC’s quarterly report on the global smartphone market share. For the first three quarters of last year, Samsung took the lead, but the latest smartphones from Apple – the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X – pushed it ahead.

Global smartphone market – changing landscape

According to IDC, the iPhone maker acquired 19.3% of the global smartphone market compared to Samsung’ 18.6% share. Huawei retained the third spot with a market share of 10.2%. Xiaomi impressed the most during the quarter, bagging the fourth spot. Xiaomi, which is performing well in India and Russia, acquired 7% market share, more than double of what it commanded last year. Oppo dropped to fifth spot.

“Meanwhile, brands outside the top 5 struggled to maintain momentum as value brands such as Honor, Vivo, Xiaomi, and OPPO offered incredible competition at the low end, and brands like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei maintained their stronghold on the high end,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

Overall, the worldwide smartphone shipments for 2017 suffered a marginal drop of less than 1% as shipments fell from 1.473 billion units in 2016 to 1.472 billion, notes IDC. However, for the fourth-quarter, worldwide shipments fell by 9%, primarily due to the collapse in the Chinese market, said Strategy Analytics. According to the research firm, this is the “biggest annual fall in smartphone history.”

Apple Beats Samsung

For the fourth-quarter, the Cupertino, California-based company sold 77.3 million iPhones, ahead of Samsung’s 74.1 million. The encouraging numbers came even after overall sales of the iPhone tumbled 1% for the year compared to 2016. This was the first decline for Apple in the holiday quarter since the launch of the iPhone in 2007.

The iPhone X sales have remained weaker than expected, with initial reports suggesting that Apple has cut down the production to half for the first-quarter of the year. Apple CEO Tim Cook, however, said during the earnings call that the iPhone X was “the top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped in November.”

According to Cook, Apple achieved another milestone as the active installed base of its devices reached 1.3 billion in January, an increase of 30% in just two years. The recent numbers show the growing popularity of the products along with loyalty and satisfaction of the customers. Further, Apple reported record profits and revenues for the fourth-quarter.

 Should Apple make budget phones?

Expressing concern on the downturn in the iPhone sales, Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said that Apple needs to foray into cheaper smartphones if it wants to grow shipments going forward.

“If Apple wants to expand shipment volumes in the future; it will need to launch a new wave of cheaper iPhones and start to push down, not up, the pricing curve,” the expert said.

Apple so far has refrained from competing in the low-end market. Apple does offer concessions on the older iPhone models and launched a cheaper iPhone SE as well. However, the efforts still do not qualify the iPhones as budget phones.

On Thursday, Apple shares closed up 0.21% at $167.78. Year to date, the stock is up over 4%.

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