Q1 2017 smartphone shipments: Samsung rebounds, Apple goes sideways, Chinese makers roar

November 2017 ยท 5 minute read


Following quarterly trader calls by cellphone makers, analysis corporations introduced a storm of industry reports. Most notable, IDC, a little amazed by more powerful four.3 % industry development than forecasted, reported Samsung’s industry management rebound.

Richard Windsor of Radio Free Cellular summed up Samsung’s rebound saying:

“Despite this [the Note seven catastrophe], the initial indicators are very good, as the evaluations of the gadget are overwhelmingly good in spite of the software program shortcomings and pre-orders are pointing to no long lasting damage having been carried out.”

Samsung’s new S8 flagship smartphone item cycle has not yet begun due to the fact it is not yet available to consumers. And Apple is in the middle of its merchandise cycle, while customers wait for its annual announcement of the following Apple iphone this drop with little far more than a pink Apple iphone 7 and an Iphone SE with a lot more storage to market.

Simply because the companies’ product cycles are 180-dgrees out of phase, with Samsung’s yearly announcement in Q1 and Apple’s in Q3, this quarter correctly represents the competition amongst the variety one and two industry leaders simply because neither has a shiny recently announced cellphone to market to customers. In Q4 2016, Apple topped the market share record with 18.3 per cent share driven by the holiday getaway period and Samsung’s Observe seven woes. This compares to Samsung’s eighteen.1 p.c industry share for the exact same time period of time. But in accordance to IDC’s report, Samsung market place share jumped to 22.eight p.c, although Apple sunk to 14.9 per cent.

Apple’s aspirations for expansion have fulfilled a headwind of competitors not only from Samsung’s model restoration, but since in accordance to IDC’s study supervisor Anthony Scarsella:

Mobile phone makers “have started to employ a single quality style language that eventually blurs the lines in between the higher conclude and the lower end, permitting the average buyer to jump on the manufacturer with no a hefty upfront investment”

Just a pair of many years back, shoppers had couple of premium smartphone choices: Samsung, Apple and few nicely-engineered telephones from companies such as HTC if they needed a excellent digicam and smooth and quick application efficiency. I observed two years ago that the high quality of smartphones was increasing with the tide of much much more reputable, battery-effective and more integrated elements from organizations this sort of as Qualcomm and a much-improved and secure Android working program, closing the gap with the quality smartphones. Utilizing the Motorola G5 Additionally as an illustration, I wrote that the Moto G5 Plus’ camera, longevity and spending budget cost could make a client rethink acquiring an Iphone 7 for 3 moments the price tag. The G5 Plus is not an isolated case, but a globally improvement.

What has altered with smartphones?

Two issues have dramatically altered throughout the earlier yr, increasing the stress on Apple and quality mobile phone makers.

Initial, midrange mobile phone cameras have improved drastically. Cameras lagged enhancement compared to other parts. With each product cycle, midrange and even spending budget phone cameras near the gap a little a lot more with flagship phone cameras. Impression-maximizing application contributed most of the advancement in these cameras.

Even more impression-maximizing computer software improvements are predicted now that researchers at Facebook and Google have created breakthroughs in squeezing device finding out versions on to smartphones. Device studying types can filter sounds from sensors, correct lights and use themes.

The 2nd remarkable alter is shoppers do not have to compromise on application performance by acquiring a midrange or spending budget smartphone like they experienced to two years in the past. This is why Apple’s Iphone S8 announcement needs to consist of augmented actuality (AR) hardware and attributes to justify its premium.

Globalization of the smartphone marketplace

The globalization of the smartphone industry will have a long lasting affect. Whilst Samsung and Apple shipments have been essentially flat, Chinese phone makers Huawei, Oppo and Vivo—holding industry share positions 3 by way of 5, respectively—have understood twenty to 30 p.c 12 months-above-yr quarterly cargo growth in China and other Asian markets. Chinese journalist Ivan Tang confirms and sums up the effect of globalization in China, reporting in Searching for Alpha (login necessary):

China’s top channel-type smartphone makers extend domination to online marketplaces and tier-1 cities—both are classic market strongholds for iPhones and Samsung.
Top local smartphone makers are pressured to thrust a lot more expensive flagship smartphones with new features to enlarge their razor-thin profit margin. It implies Iphone faces a lot more difficulties.
Unless new iPhones to be introduced this yr are actually outstanding, Apple’s smartphone revenue and market place share will be squeezed even more in China.
Tang makes another essential stage supporting my thesis of the bettering phone top quality. The alternative cycle is lengthening, as Chinese consumers are not compelled to improve as speedily.

China’s $362 average offering price (ASP) makes it a industry that is not conducive to the western-priced flagship phones. Apple’s reduction in China, a market place symbolizing 1-third of the world market place for phones, ought to not be observed as a acquire for Google. Even though Chinese phone makers ship phones with the Android working system, they do not ship Google Android’s ecosystem of apps (Gmail, Maps, Lookup, and so forth.) preinstalled, severely restricting Google’s potential to monetize Chinese buyers with marketing.

With Apple and Samsung’s year-over-calendar year quarterly shipments essentially flat and the phone makers in the other group declining by one per cent, the top and bottom of the industry share positions are a challenge with no location to go but down as Chinese makers roar in advance.