According to a new report from Gartner, worldwide sales of smartphones to end users grew 3.9 percent year over year to 349 million units in the first quarter 2016. Smartphone sales accounted for more than three quarters of total mobile phone sales during the period, Gartner said.
Gartner principal research analyst Tuong Huy Nguyen said the disparate smartphone sales and shipment figures are representative of what each measurement is tracking. While shipment totals measure the volume of devices pumped into the channel, sales totals are a reflection of how many devices actually end up in consumer hands, he said.
Since sales totals can include shipment inventory from previous quarters, it is possible for sales figures to top shipment figures in a given period, as they did in the first quarter 2016.
“All the vendors in the market recognize that 2016 is probably going to be a slower year, so they aren’t stocking the channel as robustly,” Nguyen said. “So they’re using up existing stock.”
Gartner said the first quarter bump in sales was driven mainly by demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets and affordable 4G smartphones across the globe. This continued demand is expected to translate to modest smartphone sales growth of around 1.3 percent year over year for the full year 2016, Nguyen said.
Though Samsung and Apple remained the dominant brands in the January to March quarter, Gartner said Chinese smartphone brands like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi continued to make gains.
“Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands, Gartner research directo Anshul Gupta said. “Two Chinese brands ranked within the top five worldwide smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2015, and represented 11 percent of the market. In the first quarter of 2016, there were three Chinese brands – Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi – and they achieved 17 percent of the market.”
Samsung shipped 81.2 million units during the quarter and captured 23.2 percent of the market share. While the latter figure was down slightly year over year, Samsung actually expanded its market share lead over Apple.
As with its shipment figures, Apple’s sales figures experienced a double-digit drop of 14 percent to 51.6 million. The smartphone maker’s market share also dipped from 17.9 percent to 14.8 percent.
Third and fourth place Huawei and Oppo both drastically increased their shipments for the quarter, jumping from 18.1 million to 28.9 million and 6.6 million to 16.1 million, respectively. Huawei ended the quarter with 8.3 percent of the market share while Oppo finished with 4.6 percent. Xiaomi, which shipped 15 million devices in the quarter, was close on Oppo’s heels with 4.3 percent of the market share.
The quarter also saw Lenovo’s disappearance from both the top five smartphone vendor ranking and the top 10 mobile phone vendor list as its smartphones sales in Greater China plummeted by 75 percent, Gartner said.
Android remained the top operating system with 84 percent of the market share, while iOS trailed with 14.8 percent and Windows and Blackberry brought up the rear with 0.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.