Global smartphone sales grew at their slowest rate since 2008 in the 2015 fourth quarter, with iPhone sales declining for the first time, according to Gartner.Global sales to end users totalled 403 million units for the quarter, a 9.7 per cent increase year-on-year, while in 2015 sales reached 1.4 billion units, an increase of 14.4 per cent from 2014.
“Low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, and strong demand for premium smartphones, continued to be the driving factors,” Anshul Gupta, Gartner research director, commented.
“An aggressive pricing from local and Chinese brands in the mid-range and entry-level segments of emerging markets led to consumers upgrading more quickly to affordable smartphones.”
Samsung and Huawei were the only top-five smartphone vendors to increase their sales to end users in the quarter, while Apple suffered its first smartphone sales decline, with iPhone sales down 4.4 per cent.
Samsung claimed a 20.7 per cent market share, up from 19.9 per cent year-on-year, while Apple, in second position, claimed a 17.7 per cent market share, down from 20.4 per cent.
Rounding out the top five, Huawei claimed an 8 per cent market share, up from 5.7 per cent, with Lenovo (including both Lenovo and Motorola sales) claiming a 5 per cent share, down from 6.6 per cent, and Xiaomi 4.5 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent.
While Samsung claimed the number one position, Gartner analysts state the company faces challenges.
“For Samsung to stop falling sales of premium smartphones, it needs to introduce new flagship smartphones that can compete with iPhones and stop the churn to iOS devices,” Gupta commented.
Meanwhile, Huawei’s 53 per cent sales growth for the quarter was the best performance year-on-year.
Over the course of 2015, Samsung maintained its number one position, claiming a 22.5 per cent market share, down from 24.7 per cent year-on-year, followed by Apple with a 15.9 per cent market share, up from 15.4 per cent.
Huawei claimed third spot with a 7.3 per cent market share, up from 5.5 per cent year-on-year, followed by Lenovo (including both Lenovo and Motorola sales) with 5.1 per cent, down from 6.5 per cent, and Xiaomi with 4.6 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent.
In terms of operating systems, Android increased its market share in the fourth quarter, claiming 80.7 per cent of the market, up from 76 per cent year-on-year, with iOS claiming a 17.7 per cent share, down from 20.4 per cent, and Windows 1.1 per cent, down from 2.8 per cent.
“Android benefited from continued demand for affordable smartphones and from the slowdown of iOS units in the premium market in the fourth quarter of 2015,” Roberta Cozza, Gartner research director, commented.