Smartphone market slowed down in Q3 but Chinese makers flourished

Ruben Fields
November 4, 2018

Huawei and Xiaomi were the big winners in Q3 2018, according to smartphone shipment figures from Counterpoint Research.

Xiaomi, Oppo and vivo saw a large improvement in markets outside of China.

Samsung's USA archrival Apple Inc. accounted for 13 percent of the global smartphone market over the cited period.

The South Korean tech giant shipped 72.3 million units of smartphones over the July-September period, Strategy Analytics said, compared with 83.4 million units posted in the same period past year, when Samsung took up 21.2 percent of the market.

China's Huawei came in second during the period, once again overtaking Apple with 52 million handsets shipped. Despite that, OPPO remained the number 5 vendor in terms of market share with 29.9 million shipments in 3Q18, down 2.1% from a year ago. The firm says 355.2 million units were shipped in total during the quarter, a year-on-year decline of 6%.

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Samsung continued to lead the smartphone market with 19 percent market share in the quarter. Samsung with 20 percent, Huawei with 14.7 percent, Apple with 13.2 percent, Xiaomi with 9.1 percent, Oppo with 8.8 percent, Vivo with 8.1 percent, LG with 3.3 percent and Motorola/Lenovo with 3 percent share are the top smartphone vendors during the third quarter of 2018.

This trend suggests that the companies are reducing their dependence on domestic sales and expanding to markets outside China, such as countries in the Asia Pacific and Europe, Pathak said. IDC points out that Samsung's dominance in the smartphone space is under pressure "from all directions" thanks to the rapid growth of competitors emerging markets. However, this also presents long-term growth opportunities for OEMs with many entering such markets to grow their sales.

Going forward, IDC expects the Chinese smartphone market to return to "flat growth" next year. The offerings from these OEMs have intensified competition and many features and capabilities common among flagship models are now progressively diffusing through to the lower price bands.

This is also affecting local smartphone players in the emerging economies, that are struggling to maintain a foothold, said Shobhit.

The next growth cycle in developed markets will likely be driven by the emergence of commercially available 5G, which is still some quarters away, the analyst added.

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