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Analysts: Smartphone Market 'In Freefall'

Canalys: smartphone shipments Q1 2019

For six consecutive quarters now, global smartphone shipments have declined, research firms Canalys and IDC reported this week.

Smartphone vendors peddled 313.9 million handsets during the first quarter of the year, the lowest number of total units shipped in almost five years, Canalys said. The market research firm reported that first quarter smartphone shipments fell 6.8 percent year over year; IDC said they were down 6.6 percent.

“This quarter’s results are a clear sign that 2019 will be another down year for worldwide smartphone shipments,” IDC said. “From a geographic standpoint, while the China market will likely be challenged for the remainder of 2019, it was the US market that felt the worst of the downturn in 1Q19.”

Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi all saw their smartphone shipment volumes decline during the quarter, but Apple posted the largest drop. iPhone shipments fell 23.2 percent to 40.2 million units, Canalys said. IDC said the drop was even greater: 30.2 percent.

“This is the largest single-quarter decline in the history of the iPhone,” Canalys Senior Analyst Ben Stanton said in a statement. “Apple’s second largest market, China, again proved tough. But this was far from its only problem. Shipments fell in the US as trade-in initiatives failed to offset the longer consumer refresh cycles.”

In other words: people are still in no rush to upgrade their smartphones. The NPD Group last summer said US consumers are now holding onto their smartphones for more than 2.5 years, on average, before upgrading.

Samsung held onto its No. 1 spot as the world’s leading smartphone vendor last quarter, followed by Huawei then Apple, Canalys and IDC said. Huawei was the only one of the top three to post a positive year-over-year change: its smartphone shipments grew just over 50 percent during the period.

Huawei has already taken the No. 2 spot from Apple, and now it aims to unseat Samsung as the world’s leading smartphone vendor by 2020. Whether it’s able to do that remains to be seen, but Canalys Research Analyst Shengtao Jin said it “will not be easy.”

Samsung “is set to defend its position more aggressively, with an explicit focus on hardware,” Jin said. Meanwhile, “other Chinese rivals, such as Xiaomi and Oppo, are starting to emulate Huawei’s overseas success. The smartphone market may be shrinking, but … it’s more competitive now than it has ever been.”

For more, check out the charts from Canalys and IDC below.

Canalys: smartphone shipments Q1 2019

IDC: smartphone shipments Q1 2019

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