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EXCLUSIVE: IDC Mobile Reports Challenged As Big Vendors Walk Away

Serious questions have been raised about the quality of IDC mobile phone data that was released earlier this week, with one major brand phone walking away from suppling data to the research group.

Earlier this week IDC claimed that mobile phone vendors shipped 3.36m devices in Q4, 2017 which represented 15.7% YoY growth, they then claimed that after leading smartphone shipments in Q2 and Q3, Android conceded the lead to Apple’s iOS in Q4.

What IDC did not reveal is that the number three brands in Q2 and Q3 Alcatel, had refused to give IDC data because management believed that what was being forecast by IDC in the past was not accurate and that some brands were seriously overstating their numbers.

It’s also been alleged that IDC is double counting numbers.  

Investigations by ChannelNews have also raised serious questions about the accuracy of the data in the IDC report after the US research group claimed that ‘Telstra branded smartphones (primarily manufactured by ZTE), dominate the low-priced prepaid space with 5.4% of the market.

They also claimed that the TCL owned Alcatel based on its partnership with Vodafone for the U series and A series held 4% of the smartphone market in 2017Q4 this is despite no manufacturer data being supplied by either Alcatel or major carrier partners’.

When challenged IDC said that they also collected data from retailers.

ChannelNews has established that several key retailers who sell mobile phones including Harvey Norman, JB Hi Fi and The Good Guys failed to supply data to IDC.

In Q2 and Q3 2017, Alcatel was listed at the #3 volume manufacturer of Android phones.

The TCL owned Company fell out with IDC after they challenged IDC data in the Q3 2017 report.

According to Alcatel CEO Sam Skontas, IDC failed to identify whether they were double counting numbers in Australia.

He claims that IDC advised him that ZTE had between 25 to 30 percent of the open market for mobile phones.

That market is worth approximately $7M dollars a quarter, this means that ZTE would have to be selling a large volume of smartphones to achieve 25% penetration.

ZTE products are not sold at major retailers or Optus or Vodafone however they are sold at Telstra, Woolworths and Target who are Telstra resellers, eBay and two models are sold at Officeworks.

Telstra branded smartphones are also made by ZTE and it’s believed that ZTE is counting both their open sales and the Telstra branded smartphone.

At the same time IDC is counting the Telstra branded smartphones in addition to the ZTE numbers.

Skontas said “We are not happy with the accuracy of the data IDC is releasing. We have grown sales of Alcatel branded smartphones in the last quarter and the last eight. Our latest numbers were not included and would have affected the iOS Vs Android numbers that IDC have reported”

Another major brand said “we have been questioning IDC mobile phone data for a long time. We know from information we have been given by major retail partners that brands such as Huawei, Oppo and ZTE have been over stated for a long time”.

Back in 1999 I challenged IDC PC monitor data. At the time the Company swore that the numbers were accurate.

When we checked with Australian Customs at the time we were able to confirm that several brands had overstated their monitor sales by more than 50%.

Bilal Javed, Senior Market Analyst, Mobility has admitted that Alcatel numbers were not included in their latest report.

He also said that he would investigate the potential of the double counting of Telstra and ZTE data.

“If we have to we will re issue the numbers” he said.

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