Global smartphone shipments declined 4% annually in 2018, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service.
The monitor found that fourth-quarter smartphone shipments for 2018 recorded a decline of 7% – marking it the fifth consecutive quarter of smartphone decline.
“This is the first time that the global smartphone market has witnessed decline for a whole year,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research.
“The decline in smartphone shipments can be attributed to lengthening replacement cycles in developed markets like US, China and Western Europe.
“Smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) tried to push sales by adding features such as AI, multiple camera assemblies, full-screen displays, in-screen fingerprint scanners etc. but consumers held on to their devices longer due to the absence of groundbreaking innovations and higher prices of devices being offered by the OEMs,” he said.
Pathak added that this decline could be reversed as new features are launched in 2019.
“Smartphone OEMs in 2019 are looking to launch devices with innovative designs and specifications such as 5G, foldable displays, punch-hole cameras, full-screen in-display fingerprint scanners to lure consumers to upgrade,” he said
“With Chinese OEMs Huawei, Oppo, vivo, Xiaomi (HOVX) improving their quality and taking the lead at launching these new features, it has become tough for both global brands and local brands alike to sustain market share.”
Notably, Huawei saw year on year growth of 46%, while its two biggest competitors Samsung and Apple declined by 6% and 15% respectively.
“The collective smartphone shipment growth of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and others was not enough to offset the decline in China, which was responsible for almost a third of global smartphone shipments in 2018,” said Counterpoint research analyst, Shobhit Srivastava.
“With China showing little or no sign of recovery due to various politico-economic factors, Chinese brands are looking to expand overseas.
“To increase market share, Chinese brands have been aggressive in both hardware/software design and marketing. They are bringing many firsts into smartphone designs and are taking multiple brand strategies to enter new segments without making a compromise of their brand image.”