The Chinese are coming: Samsung, Apple’s global smartphone market share slipping

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Lenovo back

Apple and Samsung are selling more phones than ever, but their share of the global smartphone market is slipping, largely thanks to the rise of Chinese players like Huawei and Lenovo.

According to the latest figures from Juniper Research, smartphone shipments reached over 290-million in Q2 2014, representing 26% year on year growth and two percent quarter on quarter growth. Strategy Analytics meanwhile reports similar numbers, adding that Android now ships on 85% of all smartphones shipped around the world.

Despite losing some market share, Samsung is still the prime mover in the Android space. The Korean tech giant accounted for 26% of all smartphone shipments globally, with an estimated 75-million shipments during the quarter. It’s also shipped around four percent more phones than it did in the previous quarter.

Interestingly, Apple’s best ever second quarter couldn’t stop it from losing market share. The Cupertino-based company shipped over 35-million iPhones, representing a year on year growth of 13%. However, Apple’s market share slipped from 15% in Q1 2014 to 12% in Q2 2014.

Interestingly, it seems Apple might only be able to partially lay the blame for its declining market share on the influx of cheap Android smartphones into emerging markets. According to Juniper, a significant proportion of iPhone sales came from emerging markets, recording 55% y-o-y growth in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

That said, it undoubtedly does have an effect. According to Juniper, the growth in economies of scale, innovation and the ‘trickle-down’ effect of technology opened up the market to a far wider variety of low-end, lower-priced smartphones which, in turn, facilitated their entry into emerging/developing markets. Juniper predicts that emerging nations in Far East and China, Indian Subcontinent, Latin America and Africa & Middle East will account for over 50% of the global smartphones shipped this year.

Two companies embodying that emerging markets growth are Huawei and Lenovo.

The former sold some 34.3-million smartphones in the first half of 2014, with the second quarter shipments reaching 20-million representing a market share of nearly seven percent. Lenovo is meanwhile estimated to have shipped 15.6-million smartphones for the second quarter, representing an increased market share of 5.5%

It’s important to note that both are playing across the full range of the market and are not just producing cheap, entry-level phones. It’s also important to note that Lenovo is yet to enter a number of markets.

While they are winning now, it would be important for their leaderships to remember how quickly things can change in the smartphone space. Strategy Analytics numbers show that BlackBerry’s bosses have not been able to arrest its precipitous decline.

In the OS stakes, things can also be quite harsh. Take Windows Phone for example. Despite making promising gains in the recent past, the Microsoft-owned OS declined from 8.9 to eight percent of the global market share.

There are however stories that show it’s possible to make a comeback. It wasn’t all that long ago that LG’s smartphone division looked dead and buried. There was simply no way it could compete with the might of Samsung. The smartphones it was shipping were all over the place too.

Then it built the G2, a phone many considered to be the best release of 2013 (its successor — the G3 — has been getting similar plaudits) and introducing innovations like self healing covers. All that helped it ship a record 14.5-million smartphones in the second quarter, representing a 20% year on year growth and five percent market share.

Image: Zaenani Trianto via Flickr.

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