Smartphone sales grew last year despite historic quarterly decline

Smartphone sales grew last year despite historic quarterly decline

First year-on-year decline since Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004

Credit: Dreamstime

The fourth quarter of 2017 saw a decline in smartphone sales globally -- the first year-on-year decline since Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004 -- but the full-year result was one of growth.

Indeed, smartphone sales in Australia grew by 11 per cent to 9.2 million units in 2017, a recent Telsyte study showed.

The Telsyte Australian Smartphone and Wearable Devices Market Study 2018 revealed strong growth driven by an Android replacement cycle.

At the same time, global sales of smartphones totalled 408 million units in the last quarter of 2017, according to Gartner research, representing a 5.6 per cent decline compared to the previous corresponding year.

"Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017," Gartner research director, Anshul Gupta, said. "First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. 

"Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones," Gupta said.

Worldwide sales, however, increased by 2.7 per cent during the entirety of 2017, totaling more than 1.5 billion units. 

According to Telsyte, Android devices made up 55 per cent of all units sold during the past year largely because 2017 was a replacement year for Android users.

Samsung maintained its market leadership closing 2017 with more than 321 million units sold taking a total market share of 20.9 per cent, data from Gartner showed. 

Apple took the second spot selling 214 million units in 2017 and owning 14 per cent of the market. Huawei came third with 9.8 per cent share market followed by OPPO and Vivo.

The fourth quarter of 2017 saw Samsung improve overall average selling price as a result of the “success” of Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Apple iPhone sales fell five per cent in the fourth quarter. According to Gartner’s Gupta, the later availability of the iPhone X and component shortages its performance was overshadowed.

“We expect good demand for the iPhone X to likely bring a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018,” Gupta said.

Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to achieve year-on-year unit growth (7.6 and 79 percent, respectively)

"Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging APAC and the U.S.," said Mr. Gupta. 

"Xiaomi's biggest market outside China is India, where it will continue to see high growth. Increasing sales in Indonesia and other markets in emerging APAC will position Xiaomi as a strong global brand."

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