Global smartphone sales rose to unprecedented highs last years, with most of the growth being attributed to large Chinese companies such as Lenovo and Huawei, data released Wednesday by the International Data Corporation (IDC) showed.
Sales of smartphones in 2015 rose at least 10 percent worldwide to a record 1.43 billion units. Statistically speaking, this is a growth of 10.1 percent from 1.30 billion units sold in 2014.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc., the top two largest smartphone manufacturers in the order by volumes, firmly retained their positions. Apple racked its global market from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 16.2 percent last year. The Cupertino, California-based Apple saw its marketing efforts in emerging markets pay off, with sales in India skyrocketing 76 percent and in China up 18 percent from a similar period the previous year.
However, both Samsung and Apple have warned the market that they expect smartphone sales to decline this year.
Diversification of Markets is Key
“Usually the conversation in the smartphone market revolves around Samsung and Apple, but Huawei’s strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand,” Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, noted.
Chau, while alluding to China’s current economic woes, said Huawei grew its smartphone shipments by selling to other outside of China and in the process saw it retain its 3rd position. The company saw shipments grow 44.3 percent in 2015; making it the fourth original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of mobile devices to sell at least 100 million units in one year, joining Samsung, Nokia and Apple. Lenovo posted the second-fastest growth in sales after shipments rose 24.5 percent last year.
Robust holiday sales mostly contributed to the record global smartphone volumes, with a combined 399.5 million units shipped out in the fourth quarter last year. Sales totaled 377.8 units in the final quarter of 2014, representing an uptick of 5.7 percent.
South Korean giant Samsung held its first position in the charts, selling 85.6 million smartphones by December. The company saw the number of shipments jump 2.1 percent year-on-year, amid growing unease in the low-to-mid range market fuelled by smaller Chinese competitors. Apple’s iPhone also grew in popularity in the premium smartphone market, threatening to dislodge sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S range of high-end smartphones.
Apple Ships More Smartphones
Apple Inc. , which has been criticized for its overreliance on the iPhone for sales growth, lived true to its billing. The tech giant shipped 74.8 million units in the fourth quarter, a 1 percent increase from the 74.5 million units sold in 4Q of 2014.
The other companies that finished in the top five were Lenovo and Xiaomi, both of which are heavily dependent on the Chinese market for sales. The IDC report notes that excess saturation of smartphones in leading markets such as China, the U.S. and Europe may force vendors to shift focus to manufacturing mid-tier smartphones with a premium feel in order to drive sales in emerging markets.