Chinese Vendors Fuel Smartphone Q1 Market Surge

Tuesday May 23rd 2017 by Pedro Hernandez
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Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are closing in on Apple and Samsung by pumping out desirable smartphones at competitive prices.

Samsung and Apple, watch out.

Gartner's latest global smartphone market data is out, and the figures indicate that Chinese smartphone manufacturers are making major gains at the expense of market leaders Samsung and Apple. All told, the world's smartphone makers shipped 380 million units in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017, a nine percent year-over-year increase.

Samsung remains the smartphone vendors to beat, with 78.7 million units shipped in Q1 and a 20.7-percent share of the market. For comparison's sake, the South Korean electronics giant shipped 81 million smartphones during the same quarter last year and claimed over 23 percent of the market.

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"Although Samsung announced that preorders for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are up 30 percent year over year, the absence of an alternative to Note 7 and the fierce competition in the basic smartphone segment are leading Samsung to continuously lose market share," noted Gartner research director Anshul Gupta in a statement.

Second-place Apple saw its iPhone shipments rise slightly to nearly 52 million units from 51.6 million a year ago. Despite this, its share of the smartphone market dipped to 13.7 percent in Q1 2016 from 14.8 percent during the same quarter in 2016.

"Sales of iPhones were flat, which led to a drop in market share year over year," Gupta stated. "Similar to Samsung, Apple is increasingly facing fierce competition from Chinese brands Oppo and Vivo, among others, and its performance in China is under attack."

And those brands are gaining quickly on the current market leaders.

Huawei shipped 34 million smartphones in Q1 2017, up from almost 29 million a year ago and enough to nab nine percent of the market. Oppo's shipments totaled nearly 31 million, a staggering 94.6-percent increase in just one year. The company's focus on producing fast-charging phones with high-quality cameras, along with a selling strategy that hinges on physical retailers, is working well for the Chinese phone maker, noted Gupta.

Finally, Vivo shipped 25.8 million smartphones during the quarter, up from 14 million in Q1 2016. The company is doing brisk business by delivering high-quality devices to emerging markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Android's dominance of the smartphone operating system market continues.

Google's system software ran on 86.1 percent of all smartphones shipped in Q1 2017, or 327 million units. Apple iOS is a distant second with 13.7 percent of the market or nearly 52 million iPhones. The remaining smartphone operating systems clung to a sliver of the market (0.2 percent) on shipments of 821,200 devices.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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