Using preliminary data from its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the International Data Corporation (IDC) reported that global smartphone shipments declined for the fifth consecutive quarter during Q4 2018.
According to a January 30th, 2019 IDC media release, global smartphone sales totalled 375.4 million units in Q4 2018, representing a 4.9 percent decline compared to Q4 2017.
The IDC estimated a total of 1.4 billion smartphones sold over the course of 2018, representing a 4.1 percent decline compared to 2017.
“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, in the same January 30th media release.
“Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.
Reith added that there are a number of possible issues causing the decline in global smartphone sales, including “lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points.”
The IDC pointed to declining sales in China as one the “largest focal point” regarding declining global smartphone shipments.
China accounts for approximately 30 percent of the world’s smartphone market, but sales declined approximately 10 percent in 2018.
The IDC also highlighted that the world’s top five smartphone manufacturers account for 69 percent of smartphone volume, an increase from 63 percent in 2017.
Still, South Korean electronics giant, and global smartphone sales leader, Samsung saw its shipment volume decline by approximately 8.0 percent in 2018. The company shipped approximately 70.4 million units in Q4 2018.
Cupertino computing giant Apple, which shipped 68.4 million units in Q4 2018, saw its market share decrease by approximately 3.2 percent in 2018.
Despite its third-place global position with 60.5 million Q4 2018 shipments, IDC reported that embattled Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturer saw a 33.6 percent year-over-year increase in volume shipments in 2018.
Overall, IDC reported that Samsung shipped 292.3 million units, Apple shipped 208.8 million units and Huawei shipped 206 million units in 2018.
“With replacement rates continuing to slow across numerous markets, vendors will need to find a new equilibrium that balances the latest smartphone features, compelling design, and affordability,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in the same January 30th media release.
According to Scarsella, the presence of 5G and foldable devices could help hardware manufacturers salvage declining sales.
“However, we expect these new devices to elevate average selling prices as new displays, chipsets, and radios will bring an increased price to the BOM (bill of materials), which will translate to higher price points for consumers,” added Scarsella.
“To combat this, carriers and retailers will need to fully maximize trade-in offers for older devices as a type of subsidy to push upgrades throughout 2019.”