UPDATED 21:33 EST / JANUARY 31 2019

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Apple retakes second place as global smartphone sales start to decline

Apple Inc. has retaken second place in global smartphone sales despite a slowing market and an overall decline in sales, according to two new sets of figures.

Both International Data Corp. and Counterpoint Technology Market Research Inc. released their estimates of smartphone sales for the fourth quarter, showing Apple leapfrogged Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which had taken second place in July.

Samsung maintained its leadership in the market with estimated sales of between 69.8 million according to Counterpoint and 70.4 million according to IDC, a decline of between 5.5 percent and 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Off the back of the release of new iPhone models in September, Apple booked 65.9 million sales (Counterpoint) or 68.4 million sales (IDC) in the quarter.

The fourth quarter is always big for Apple thanks to the new models coming out in the lead-up to the holiday season, Counterpoint confirmed previous reports that the models are not selling as well as expected. It said Apple sales dropped 15 percent, while IDC put the number at 11.5 percent.

While slipping behind Apple into third place, Huawei sold either 59.7 million (Counterpoint) or 68.4 million (IDC) phones, up either 46 percent or 43.9 percent, respectively.

Along with Huawei, other leading Chinese brands all saw growth in the quarter with both Oppo Electronics Corp. and Vivo Communication Technology Co. Ltd. increasing sales by more than 10 percent.

q4smartphonesThe two reports differed widely on Xiaomi Corp., with IDC suggesting that its sales increased 1.4 percent while Counterpoint claimed sales dropped by 15 percent.

The most notable trend across the entire market was a decline in overall sales, Counterpoint pegging the drop at 7 percent and IDC at 4.9 percent. Counterpoint pointed to slowing demand for phones in China as being behind the overall fall in shipments.

“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 1/3rd of global smartphone shipments in 2018,” Counterpoint research analyst Shobhit Srivastava noted.

Declining demand in China has also seen Chinese brands more aggressively market products in new markets.

“With China showing little or no sign of recovery due to various politico-economic factors, Chinese brands are looking to expand overseas,” Srivastava added. “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.”

Photo: Andy Kuzma/Pexels

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