Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Gartner just released figures on total global smartphone sales that show decreased sales in Q4 2019 despite small year-on-year increases for Apple and Xiaomi. In that quarter, consumers purchased 406.6 million new phones compared to 408.5 million in the same quarter the previous year. Samsung, the long-time leader in smartphone sales, retained the same 17.3 percent market share although it sold fewer units year-on-year. In comparison to Q4 2018, Apple sold 5 million more mobile devices in that quarter in 2019.

VentureBeat reports that Apple’s “market share increased by 1.3 percentage points, falling just short of Samsung … [and] perhaps most notably, Apple’s 7.8 percent sales increase reversed a trend of four consecutive quarterly declines.”

“A slight lowering of the prices of the iPhone 11 series, compared with the iPhone XR, and other price reductions for previous-generation iPhone models increased demand,” explained Gartner research vice president Annette Zimmermann.

Huawei “also saw a small decrease in sales for the fourth quarter,” despite the fact that the company is the target of a U.S. trade blacklist that blocks it from using Google’s Android operating system and apps. But, said Gartner senior research analyst Anshul Gupta, “if Huawei continues to face a ban on accessing technology from the U.S. in 2020, its smartphone prospects in the international smartphone market will be severely impacted.”

Another Chinese handset manufacturer, Xiaomi, increased its smartphone sales by 5 million units in Q4, with its market share rising by 1.2 percent.

The overall picture for 2019 showed Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi increasing smartphone sales, “even though overall smartphone sales dropped by 0.5 percent between 2018 and 2019.” Huawei had the best year-on-year performance, “with sales increasing by around 18 percent to 48 million,” which allowed it to surpass Apple to second place in 2019. Its market share — 15.6 percent — was “a full 3 percentage points ahead” of Apple, whose iPhone sales fell more than 15 million in 2019.

VB notes that Huawei’s market share in China grew by 37 percent last year, due to “a patriotic increase … in domestic sales” in the wake of the Google trade ban. This year is “already shaping up to be an interesting year,” with Apple warning “of the impact the coronavirus will have on its Q2 revenue, while new foldables will enter the fray in various shapes and sizes, and 5G will gain a firmer foothold.”