Smartphone sales figures reflect sluggish market

Sales of smartphones to end users globally dropped 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, totaling 373 million units, according to Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory firm. Huawei maintained its ranking as the No. 2 smartphone vendor worldwide and continued to reduce the gap with Samsung in the first-quarter, despite being pushed out of the US market.

The report from Gartner showed that demand for premium smartphones continued to remain lower for than for basic smartphones, which affected brands such as Samsung and Apple that have significant stakes in high-end smartphones. In addition, demand for utility smartphones declined as the rate of upgrading from feature phones to smartphones has slowed, given that 4G feature phones give users great advantages at a lower cost.

Slowing innovation in flagship smartphones and rising prices continued to extend replacement cycles. The two countries that sell the most smartphones, namely the US and China, saw sales decline by 15.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2019, said Gartner.

In the first quarter of 2019, Samsung retained the top spot in worldwide smartphone sales selling 72 million units and achieving 19.2 percent market share. Huawei achieved the highest year-over-year growth among the world’s top five, growing 44.5 percent and smartphone sales totaling 58 million units.

Sales of Huawei smartphones grew in all regions, doing particularly well in two of its biggest regions, Europe and Greater China, where its smartphone sales grew by 69 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

However, going forward, the unavailability of Google apps and services on Huawei smartphones, will upset Huawei’s international smartphone business which is almost half of its worldwide phone business.

Samsung remained the No. 1 smartphone vendor worldwide, having received a good response to its flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone, as well as for its midtier and entry-tier smartphone ranges with a refreshed A series and J series and the newly introduced M series.

Sales of Apple iPhones, which totaled 45 million units in the first quarter of 2019, saw a decline of 17.6 percent year over year. While the price cut for iPhones across markets helped drive up demand it was apparently not enough to stem the slide in sales in the first quarter. Apple is facing longer replacement cycles as users struggle to see enough value benefits to justify replacing existing iPhones.

Vivo beat Xiaomi to claim the No. 5 spot in the first quarter of 2019 by selling 27.4 million units as against the 27.2 million units sold by Xiaomi. Latest features, such as in-display fingerprint scanner, slider camera, fast charging and almost bezel-less display, helped Vivo achieve double-digit smartphone sales growth in the first quarter of 2019.