- A total of 151.9 million units of smartphones were sold in India during 2019
- Apple and Xiaomi were the only vendors in the top five to achieve growth in the fourth quarter of 2019
Global sales of smartphones to end users contracted in the fourth quarter of 2019, declining by 0.4 per cent year over year, according to Gartner, Inc. In full year 2019, smartphone sales declined by one per cent.
“2019 ended a little better than expected, due to slightly improved performances from North America and emerging Asia/Pacific. However, India, which sold 151.9 million units, overtook the U.S. to become the No. 2 country for smartphone sales in 2019. China maintained the lead, with sales of 390.8 million smartphones over the full year,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner.
Apple and Xiaomi, as per the report, were the only vendors in the top five to achieve growth in the fourth quarter of 2019. Even with a decline in sales, Samsung held on to the number one position with 17.3 per cent market share. Apple secured the number two position with 17.1 per cent of the market.
Price reductions increased demand for Apple’s iPhone
After four consecutive quarters of decline, Apple’s iPhone sales returned to growth, with an increase of 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter. “A slight lowering of the prices of the iPhone 11 series, compared with the iPhone XR, and other price reductions for previous-generation iPhone models, increased demand. It also helped Apple regain the number two position,” said Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner.
Sales of iPhones were particularly strong in China, where they grew by 39 per cent in the fourth quarter. Apple also performed strongly in certain mature and developing markets, such as the U.K., France, Germany, Brazil and India.
Gartner analysts expect Apple will launch its first 5G smartphone in the third quarter of 2020. This will encourage users to upgrade in countries where 5G network services are available.
Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi Grew in 2019
Xiaomi’s smartphone sales totaled 32.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2019 — a 16.5 per cent increase, year over year. “This strong performance enabled Xiaomi to overtake Oppo and take the number four spot. The price and performance of Redmi models drove Xiaomi’s smartphone sales growth, and the company did particularly well in emerging Asia/Pacific,” explained Gupta.
In China, Xiaomi started increasing its smartphone prices to increase profits. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in China presents some challenges to retail-focused vendors such as Oppo and Vivo, but creates opportunity for Xiaomi, which has been expanding its online channel strategy.
Despite a small (0.5 per cent) year-over-year contraction in its smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2019, Samsung maintained its number one position in the global ranking for 2019. It increased its full-year sales by 0.4 per cent to 296.2 million units.
Samsung successfully revamped its midtier and entry-level smartphones in 2019. To attract price conscious buyers of premium smartphones, it launched the Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite in early January 2019. In addition, it recently announced a new foldable smartphone to counter the threat from Huawei.
“The fierce battle between Samsung and Huawei in the foldable phone market will be interesting to follow this year, as each vendor takes a different approach. Samsung has switched from a horizontal to a vertical fold in the Galaxy Z Flip and reduced this phone’s size and price. Huawei has launched the Mate Xs — with Huawei Mobile Services now accessible via the Huawei AppGallery worldwide and increased its price,” added Gupta.
Huawei experienced the highest growth in 2019 with an overall annual increase of 18.6 per cent. This helped it secure the number two spot for the year, ahead of Apple. While facing an extended ban from the U.S., Huawei aggressively pursued its smartphone strategy in China, where it grew its market share by 37 per cent in 2019.
“If Huawei continues to face a ban on accessing technology from the U.S. in 2020, its smartphone prospects in the international smartphone market will be severely impacted,” added Gupta.
“Looking forward, while the COVID-19 outbreak will impact smartphone demand negatively in China in the first quarter of 2020, we do not expect a demand contraction in the international smartphone market during that period,” stated Zimmermann.