Apple overtakes Samsung in Q4 smartphone shipments, but Samsung leads 2017

5th Feb 2018
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iPhone market share climbed to 19.2 percent compared to Samsung’s 18.4 percent. Both companies, however, witnessed a yearly decline in fourth quarter shipments as consumers were slow to upgrade.

After trailing Samsung in the first three quarters of 2017, Apple surpassed the Korean manufacturer in the October to December period to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor. IDC has revealed in a report that Apple’s resurgence in Q4 2017 was led by its new launches — iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.

While global smartphone shipments declined 6.3 percent in Q4 2017 compared to Q4 2016, Apple accounted for 19.2 percent of overall quarterly shipments. iPhones accounted for 77.3 million of the 403.5 million smartphones shipped in Q4. Samsung, on the other hand, shipped 74.1 million units, securing 18.4 percent of the market.

According to IDC, “Apple continues to prove that having numerous models at various price points bodes well for bringing smartphone owners to iOS. Although demand for the new higher priced iPhone X may not have been as strong as many expected, the overall iPhone lineup appealed to a wider range of consumers in both emerging and developed markets.”

Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo followed with 10.2 percent, 7 percent and 6.8 percent shares respectively. Xiaomi was the only player in the top five which did not record a year-on-year decline in shipments.

Samsung leads full year shipments

Q4 might have belonged to Apple, but Samsung continued to lead annual shipments for 2017. It shipped 317.3 million units of its smartphones compared to Apple’s 215.8 million units.

“Despite the failure of the Note 7 combined with the endless collective pressure from Chinese players along with Apple, Samsung has managed to remain on top through thick and thin. The pending arrival of their next flagship, the Galaxy S9, may represent the brand's best chance of winning over both new and current customers in 2018,” IDC stated.

Consumer upgrade cycles, however, have lengthened, and it could slow down growth in in Q1 2018.

Anthony Scarsella, Research Manager, Mobile Phones at IDC, said: “The latest flock of posh flagships may have had consumers hitting the pause button in the holiday quarter. With ultra-high-end flagships all the rage in 2017, many of these new bezel-less wonders proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity among upgraders.”

Apple tweaks India pricing

Following the increase in custom duty on mobile phones as announced in the Union Budget 2018-19, iPhone prices have climbed by 3 percent on an average. Apple India has formally announced refreshed prices for its products in India. Except the iPhone SE, which Apple assembles in India, all 14 models have been impacted.

Apple’s costliest phone, iPhone X 256GB, now retails at Rs 1.08 lakh as opposed to Rs 1.05 lakh. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — both 256GB versions — are dearer by Rs 2,080 and Rs 2,360 respectively. Incidentally, this is the second time Apple has hiked iPhone prices in two months.

YourStory spoke to a few analysts who reckon Apple is the “worst hit” by the government’s custom duty hike. Close to 90 percent of Apple shipments are imported. Hence, the iPhone-maker is compelled to raise prices in India. However, this could potentially slow down demand in what Apple considers a critical market.

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