21 February 2017
Smartphone sales grew 7% in Q4, 2016 to reach 432 million units according to a report by market research firm Gartner. Apple surged past Samsung to become the number one smartphone vendor globally.
Q4, 2016 saw the biggest struggle between Samsung and Apple in terms of smartphone sales. Samsung sales suffered due to the Galaxy Note 7 disaster in Q3 and Q4, 2016. The South Korean giant saw a decline of 8% in sales, and the withdrawal of the Note 7 left a gap in its big screen offerings. Apple managed to sell 256,000 more iPhones in the quarter, leaving Samsung behind. Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus witnesses a huge demand in the holiday season.
"This is the second consecutive quarter in which Samsung has delivered falling quarterly smartphone sales," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "Samsung's smartphone sales declined 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year on year."
Chinese smartphone vendors Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3% of smartphones sales in 2016.
"Huawei introduced Mate 9 during the quarter — within a month of Samsung discontinuing the Galaxy Note 7 — which was good timing to position it as an alternative," said Mr Gupta.
Huawei benefitted from the gap in the market that was left after Samsung had to withdraw its Note 7. Gartner predicts that the company is coming close to becoming the second biggest smartphone vendor in 2017, with the launch of its new Huawei Mate 9 smartphone in the US later this year.
Oppo remained the biggest smartphone vendor in China in Q4, 2016 and globally it has become the No. 4 smartphone vendor. BBK is the second biggest smartphone maker in China and has emerged as the fifth biggest smartphone maker worldwide.
Android captured 82% of the global market in Q4, 2016, while iOS accounted for 18% of the market share. Google’s Pixel smartphone contributed to an increase in Android market share.
"The entry of Google's Pixel phone has made the premium Android smartphone offering more competitive, while the re-entry of HMD (Nokia) in the basic (midtier) smartphone category is set to further increase the competition in emerging markets," said Mr Gupta. Overall 1.5 billion smartphones were shipped in 2016, an increase of 5% from 2015.