Gartner: Fierce Battle Between Apple and Samsung to Hold the No. 1

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 432 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 7% increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. The fourth quarter of 2016 saw Apple leapfrog past Samsung to secure the No. 1 global smartphone vendor position (see Table 1).

In 2016 overall, smartphone sales to end users totaled nearly 1.5 billion units, an increase of 5 percent from 2015 (see Table 2).

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“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.”

“Samsung’s smartphone sales started to drop in the third quarter of 2016, and the decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 slowed down sales of its smartphone portfolio in the fourth quarter,” added Mr. Gupta.

“The withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 left a gap in its large-screen phone range.” Samsung also faced growing competition in the midtier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all grew their sales each quarter.

Closest Quarter Ever Between Samsung and Apple

It has taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the No. 1 global smartphone vendor ranking, but the positions of the two leaders have never been so close, with only 256,000 units difference.

Table 1. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 4Q16Units 4Q16 Market Share (%) 4Q15
Units
4Q15 Market Share (%)
Apple 77,038.9 17.9 71,525.9 17.7
Samsung 76,782.6 17.8 83,437.7 20.7
Huawei 40,803.7 9.5 32,116.5 8.0
Oppo 26,704.7 6.2 12,961.5 3.2
BBK Communication Equipment 24,288.2 5.6 11,359.4 2.8
Others 185,921.1 43.1 191,708.4 47.6
Total 431,539.3 100.0 403,109.4 100.0

Source: Gartner (February 2017)

Top Chinese Smartphone Vendors Grew Share by 7% in Fourth Quarter of 2016

Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3 percent of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 7.3 percentage points year on year.

Huawei’s premium smartphone offering has helped it to reduce the gap with Samsung during the fourth quarter of 2016, with a difference of 36 million units. In the same period last year, the gap between the two vendors was more than 50 million units.

Offering high-performance, front-facing cameras and fast charging smartphones led Oppo to maintain the No. 1 positon in China during the fourth quarter of 2016. Its strong position in China and continued growth of sales in the markets outside China have helped Oppo position itself as the No. 4 smartphone vendor worldwide.

Table 2. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2016 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 2016
Units
2016 Market Share (%) 2015
Units
2015 Market Share (%)
Samsung 306,446.6 20.5 320,219.7 22.5
Apple 216,064.0 14.4 225,850.6 15.9
Huawei 132,824.9 8.9 104,094.7 7.3
Oppo 85,299.5 5.7 39,489.0 2.8
BBK Communication Equipment 72,408.6 4.8 35,291.3 2.5
Others 682,314.3 45.6 698,955.1 49.1
Total 1,495,358.0 100.0 1,423,900.4 100.0

Source: Gartner (February 2017)

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Google’s Android extended its lead by capturing 82 percent of the total market in the fourth quarter of 2016 (see Table 3). In 2016 overall, Android also grew its market share by 3.2 percentage points to reach an 84.8 percent share, and was the only OS to grow market share year on year.

Table 3. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)

Operating System 4Q16
Units
4Q16 Market Share (%) 4Q15
Units
4Q15 Market Share (%)
Android 352,669.9 81.7 325,394.4 80.7
iOS 77,038.9 17.9 71,525.9 17.7
Windows 1,092.2 0.3 4,395.0 1.1
BlackBerry 207.9 0.0 906.9 0.2
Other OS 530.4 0.1 887.3 0.2
Total 431,539.3 100.0 403,109.4 100.0

Source: Gartner (February 2017)

 

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