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Global Smartphone Sales Stall, Apple Suffers Worst Decline

Global smartphone sales stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2018, experiencing growth of just 0.1%, with Apple suffering its worst quarterly decline since Q1 2016, according to market research conducted by Gartner Inc.

The results highlight the challenge smartphone manufacturers have going into Mobile World Congress, which kicks off next week.

As Xiaomi and Huawei devices increased in popularity, Samsung’s smartphone sales declined by 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018, losing its market share in Greater China, Europe and Latin America to the Chinese manufacturers, contributing to an overall 8.2% fall in its smartphone sales in 2018.

In 2018 as a whole, global sales of smartphones to end users grew 1.2% YoY, to 1.6 billion units.

The APAC markets declined by 3.4%, whereas North America and Greater China declined by 6.8% and 3.0% respectively.

“Demand for entry-level and midprice smartphones remained strong across markets, but demand for high-end smartphones continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2018,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.

“Slowing incremental innovation at the high end, coupled with price increases, deterred replacement decisions for high-end smartphones. This led to a flat-growth market in the fourth quarter of 2018.”

Among the top five smartphone manufacturers, Apple experienced the biggest decline with iPhone sales hitting 64.5 million units in Q4 of 2018, a YoY decline of 11.8%.

As noted by other reports, Apple saw iPhone demand slow in most regions, especially in Greater China where its market share dropped 8.8% from 14.6% in Q4 YoY.

For the entire year, iPhone sales were just over 209 million units, down 2.7%.

“Apple has to deal not only with buyers delaying upgrades as they wait for more innovative smartphones, but it also continues to face compelling high-price and midprice smartphone alternatives from Chinese vendors,” added Mr Gupta.

Huawei was the big winner, according to the report, selling over 60 million devices in Q4 of 2018, achieving the strongest growth of the quarter (37.6%) of the top five smartphone vendors.

Further information is available to Gartner clients here.

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