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Smartphone Market In Doldrums: Buyers Spurn New Gadgets

IDC has described 2018 as “the worst year ever” for smartphone sales. Its report estimates that shipments across the board during fiscal Q4 2018 totalled just 375.4 million units, down 4.9pc year-over-year.

Rival Counterpoint Research report put the decline at four per cent, with total shipments for the year estimated to be down from 1558.8 million units in 2017 to 1498.3 million in 2018.

And the final quarter of the year looked even worse, with shipments down an estimated seven per cent, marking it the fifth consecutive quarter of smartphone decline.

Samsung had a 19 per cent share of the global market, followed by Apple and Huawei, both at 14 per cent, according to Counterpoint. China’s Xiaomi was in the fourth spot with eight per cent.

The market watcher said the decline can largely be attributed to lengthening replacement cycles in developed markets like the US, China and Western Europe.

Smartphone manufacturers tried to push sales by adding features such as AI, multiple camera assemblies, full-screen displays and on-screen fingerprint scanners. But consumers held on to their devices longer, due to higher prices and the absence of ground-breaking innovations.

“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

“We believe several factors are at play here, including lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points.”

IDC estimates Apple shipped 208.8 million iPhones in 2018 (down 3.2pc), lagging behind Samsung which shipped 292.3 million (down 8pc). Huawei placed third, shipping 206 million units, up 43.9pc year-on-year.

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