Smartphone sales recorded first-ever decline during Q4'17

CIOL Writers
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Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled nearly 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 5.6 percent decline over the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Gartner. This is the first year-on-year decline since Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004.


"Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality "ultra-low-cost" smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones. Moreover, while demand for high quality, 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales."

While  Samsung saw a year-on-year unit decline of 3.6 percent in Q4, sales of Apple’s iPhones fell 5 percent in the holiday quarter. One of the reasons for Apple's poor performance was late availability of its new top-of-the-range iPhone X.

China’s Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to actively increase their market shares in Q4, according to Gartner, with year-on-year unit growth in the holiday quarter of 7.6 and 79 percent, respectively.


The analyst credits Huawei’s uplift to broadening the appeal of its portfolio with new handset launches in the quarter. It also says Xiaomi’s “competitive” portfolio accelerating its growth in the emerging APAC market and helped it win back lost share in China.

Gartner says it’s expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018, now that the flagship’s delivery cycle has returned to normal. It’s also expecting a boost for Samsung in Q1 as it unpacks its successor Galaxy flagships.

On the OS front, Google’s Android platform extended its lead in 2017, taking an 86 percent share of the total market, up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. iOS, on the other hand, took 14 percent.

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