Gartner: Apple again world’s No. 1 smartphone vendor

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 432 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 7 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. The fourth quarter of 2016 saw Apple leapfrog past Samsung to secure the No. 1 global smartphone vendor position (see Table 1).

In 2016 overall, smartphone sales to end users totaled nearly 1.5 billion units, an increase of 5 percent from 2015 (see Table 2).

“This is the second consecutive quarter in which Samsung has delivered falling quarterly smartphone sales,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “Samsung’s smartphone sales declined 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year on year.”

“Samsung’s smartphone sales started to drop in the third quarter of 2016, and the decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 slowed down sales of its smartphone portfolio in the fourth quarter,” added Mr. Gupta. “The withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 left a gap in its large-screen phone range.” Samsung also faced growing competition in the midtier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all grew their sales each quarter.

Apple regains the No. 1 global smartphone vendor ranking

It has taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the No. 1 global smartphone vendor ranking, but the positions of the two leaders have never been so close, with only 256,000 units difference. “The last time Apple was in the leading position was in the fourth quarter of 2014, when its sales were driven by its first ever large-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus,” said Mr. Gupta in a statement. “This time it achieved it thanks to strong sales of its flagship phones — the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; it also benefited from the weakened demand for Samsung’s smartphones in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, and in some mature markets in Asia such as Australia and South Korea.

Table 1. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)
Gartner: Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)
Source: Gartner (February 2017)

Top Chinese Smartphone Vendors Grew Share by 7 Percentage Points in Fourth Quarter of 2016

Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3 percent of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 7.3 percentage points year on year. “Huawei introduced Mate 9 during the quarter — within a month of Samsung discontinuing the Galaxy Note 7 — which was good timing to position it as an alternative,” said Mr. Gupta.

Huawei’s premium smartphone offering has helped it to reduce the gap with Samsung during the fourth quarter of 2016, with a difference of 36 million units. In the same period last year, the gap between the two vendors was more than 50 million units. “Huawei is poised to reduce the gap further with the No. 2 global smartphone vendor,” said Mr. Gupta. “Mate 9 with Alexa will start shipping into the U.S. in the first quarter of 2017.”

Offering high-performance, front-facing cameras and fast charging smartphones led Oppo to maintain the No. 1 positon in China during the fourth quarter of 2016. Its strong position in China and continued growth of sales in the markets outside China have helped Oppo position itself as the No. 4 smartphone vendor worldwide.

BBK’s focus on quality, design and strong branding initiatives has positioned it as a strong mobile phone brand in China and India. BBK continued its hold on the No. 2 position in China and was marginally ahead of Huawei during the fourth quarter of 2016. BBK’s strong performance in India, where its sales grew by 278 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, and more than 363 percent in 2016 overall, allowed it to emerge as the No. 5 smartphone vendor worldwide.

Top Chinese brands such as Oppo, BBK, Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi and Lenovo are aggressively expanding into markets outside China, where they will continue to disrupt the top smartphone players in 2017. “Samsung needs to successfully launch the next Galaxy flagship phone in order to continue the momentum Galaxy S7 generated, and win back lost customers by launching a new large screen and stylus-equipped smartphone,” said Mr. Gupta.

Table 2. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2016 (Thousands of Units)
Gartner: Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2016 (Thousands of Units)
Source: Gartner (February 2017)

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Google’s Android extended its lead by capturing 82 percent of the total market in the fourth quarter of 2016 (see Table 3). In 2016 overall, Android also grew its market share by 3.2 percentage points to reach an 84.8 percent share, and was the only OS to grow market share year on year. “The entry of Google’s Pixel phone has made the premium Android smartphone offering more competitive, while the re-entry of HMD (Nokia) in the basic (midtier) smartphone category, is set to further increase the competition in emerging markets,” said Mr. Gupta.

Table 3. Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)
Gartner: Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q16 (Thousands of Units)
Source: Gartner (February 2017)

Further information is available in the Gartner report entitled “Market Share: Final PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, All Countries, 4Q16.”

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Leading in unit share is nice, but it’s no match for dominating in profit share. As Android confirms what Mikey Dell proved so well: You can’t make it up in volume.

If Apple owns nearly all of the profits, how do the other phone makers stay in business? – February 8, 2017
Apple took 92% of smartphone industry’s profits in Q416 – February 7, 2017


        1. Yep…the GOP machine is adept at creating fake news and has a long history of it.

          Don’t bring that Dem/lib crap around here and expect everyone to roll over and take it. Go preach your party line somewhere else, anonymous polititard troll. At least DustyMac attempts to spread the blame, although that is still misrepresentative of the actual situation in which the alt-right rewrites history daily for its own purposes, or simply conjures up fictional events.

          1. Not just the blame but the kudos as well. There are many good Republicans and many good Democrats that do not stoop to name-calling and promoting fake news and scandal.

            Left and right are both fighting for good outcomes. Unfortunately it is hard to agree on the course of action to best achieve those outcomes.

            We need to stop hating each other and start working together to achieve greatness.Anything that divides us will limit our ability to prosper.

            1. I’d like to put in a good word for independents. We have a mix of interests and viewpoints, rather than a single dominant ideology that was cynically cobbled together by political operatives to attract voting blocs and annealed into a platform that became the creed of a party that secretly represents the richest people in the country. Which is either of the major parties.

            2. Well said. Personally I am not affiliated with any party as each party holds to some beliefs that I cannot agree with. I will side with party A on some issues and party B on others. Life is much too complicated to be reduced to either A or B decisions.

  1. They have always been at the leader in “smart phone”. They don’t do dumb phones or “feature” phones which makes up a huge portion of Samdung shipments. They need to stop comparing apples to oranges and saying one company rules the fruit sales market.

  2. There are articles saying, “Apple is the number one smartphone vendor” adding “but for how long.” Seriously, what difference does it make. It’s a title that doesn’t mean all that much, especially for Apple. The whole idea of running a successful business is to keep the books well-balanced. Selling a few more or less units isn’t going to make or break Apple. So, the boo-birds are trying to prepare Apple investors for the “Big Fall” from grace when Samsung reclaims the number one spot based on special smartphone deals that are designed to move many more smartphones to poor consumers. Then it will be, “Apple loses number one spot to mighty Samsung, conqueror of the smartphone business.” Apple will be seen as a doomed company, yet again.

    Why is there a need for all this stupid posturing? Just let companies sell smartphones to their target customers and let it go at that. Clearly, Apple is not even trying to sell smartphone to everyone on the planet and Samsung is definitely trying to sell smartphones to a broader segment of the consumer market. I think both companies are somewhat achieving their goals but Apple is always going to be seen as the failure because it doesn’t always sell as many units. That’s just stupid to say a company is a failure because it doesn’t sell more units than another company does when there are so many other factors to consider.

  3. Given the fact that Apple sells premium phones and doesn’t compete on price, this is a stunning achievement. Realize this article focuses on global marketshare by OEM, a much more meaningful metric than a regional marketshare by OS. Still, the tired articles predicting Apple’s decline will continue, for click generation if nothing else…

  4. SO, why is BMW on the brink of bankruptcy with less than a 3% global market share? Oh, thats right, BMW’s automobiles are shite. Right? What a joke this marketshare fiasco has become.

    More FUD & Mirrors from the mainstream whiners. Glad iPicked up more AAPL under $100.00.

    ps. All information posted to the internet has been verified, is true and has validated trustworthy sources. Right? iHave some icebergs for sale near the arctic circle. Better hurry, Spring is fast approaching and global warming is Trumps fault. Right? GMAFB

    1. The current state of climate change is not Trump’s fault, other than whatever small contributions he made as a real estate developer and generator of copious amounts of hot gas from his pie hole. The future trends in climate change may very well be driven by Trump’s choices. Our ancestors may end up cursing his name.

      1. Have you stepped back and considered why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change?

        Alarmists exaggerate the science, make scary predictions with highly tweaked and unstable computer models and are proven wrong repeatedly as time goes by. The climate models alarmists cling to are built upon a house of cards that the owners and protectors of these models don’t want to discuss because it would cast doubt on their work, their reputation, and their funding. The way they attempt to shut down discussion is to label anyone who has a question about their analysis as a “denier,” which leaves those with legitimate questions in disgust and dismay. This appalling behavior damages the credibility of climate science as a whole, which is a damn shame because there’s a lot of good that comes out of basic research into how the climate works.

        This doesn’t only occur in climate science. The battle between Government scientists over which is more heathy – margarine or butter – is one tawdry example. Another casualty has been the unfortunate disbelief by some of the Government’s warning about making sure children get vaccinated.

        The majority of people questioning the current state of climate science are not far Right nutters. They believe the earth is warming and that human activity impacts the climate. But deep devisions between climate scientists persist when it comes to how much impact human activity has upon the climate versus natural variability.

        The press is culpable here as well, failing their claimed mandate as the fourth estate acting as an impartial check on the Government. They have shown little interest in investigating and reporting on these divisions since they discovered that weather porn was good clickbait. The truth is less black & white, perhaps boring to many, and is politically useless for climate alarmists.

        The result has been a loss of the public’s trust in the news media, damage to the overall credibility of climate science, and an almost complete failure to get policy changes through congress. Climate alarmism serves no one but a few narrow vested interests. It is poor science and poor politics.

        1. Actually, if you understood the data, you _would_ be alarmed. None of this “gee, it snowed so there is no climate change!” kind of thinking. Or “OMG, the scientists adjusted a certain dataset they knew were inaccurate …See, Louise, I told you they were fudging the numbers!” It is not the alarmists at fault. It is the deniers, the rationalizers, and those who believe it is God’s will who are “poisoning the well of discourse”.

          1. Well, I can’t really talk to all the “strawman” examples you put forth, since I brought up precisely none of them. Did I mention weather versus climate? Did I mention anyone fudging numbers? Did I mention God? No, no and no. Did you even fully read and understand what I said?

            “It’s not the alarmists fault?” Yes, it is. Alarmists have failed to get any meaningful legislation passed over the last few years and that is an undisputed fact. Own it. Polls show it ranks near the bottom of American’s policy priorities.

            A first positive step to changing American public opinion might be to stop calling those with legitimate questions “deniers.” It’s no way to win anyone over to your point of view. It’s more along the lines of arrogant and stupid. Those who call other people “deniers” really need to look in the mirror because the description better fits them.

            The only advice I have is to keep your eyes and mind open to things that might conflict with your world view. I most certainly do. It’s the only way we can continue to learn as we go through life.

            1. Holy cow! No, sir. You are a perfect example of what I refer to. You pretend to want discourse. But you do not. You really just want everyone to think they way you do. But your thinking is inadequate to the task, and your conclusion is simply wrong. Can you even describe what the scientific method is, and how it works, in a succinct sentence? How about describing the basic principles and practices of statistical hypothesis testing and data-analytic methods that are intrinsic to the scientific method? Your comments do not seem to be based on an understanding of these things. (And you will certainly not get good information from the brilliant people at groups like Breitbart Scientific…)

              In your 1st sentence you mentioned: “3 decades of climate alarmism” & “anthropogenic climate change”. In your 2nd paragraph you said: “Alarmists exaggerate science”, “make scary predictions”, you mention “…highly tweaked unstable computer models proven wrong”; ad nauseam. You also assert: “[scientists] don’t want to discuss their data and models”; “they attempt to shut down discussion by labeling anyone who has a question about their analysis as a ‘denier’.”

              These are all your words. Then you try to tell me my above reply is off the mark? Sorry, it simply does not follow.

              I will repeat what I said previously: every shortcoming you blame on “alarmists” is, in fact, caused by deniers. You got your conclusion exactly backwards. The data, evidence, and science are very strong in this area.

              Incidentally, I read an article the other day commemorating the launch of Toyota’s new Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid that will get 133 MPG equivalent. The article noted that Toyota (which also owns the Lexus brand) recently sold its 10 millionth Prius. But the really interesting fact was that 40% of all vehicles now sold by Toyota are hybrids. Incidentally, the Chairman of Toyota believes in climate change, and looks on its hybrids as providing a long and stable bridge to a future without fossil fuels. What does that tell you?

              The fascinating thing about science is that it has never been shown to go backwards. So we will know with increasing certainty over time.

              But what I do not understand is how or why “deniers” are so sure climate change is NOT happening, since there is even less data to support this position. They reject even the *possibility* of climate change as an impact of human activity on the planet …even as scientists declared the anthropocene era on earth and are debating when it started, not whether it exists.

              Because once people accept climate change could possibly be a true outcome, then our collective action becomes one of making our best collective “bet” given an uncertain roll of the dice. It is game theory: making the strategically best decision under conditions of uncertainty. Do nothing and if it turns out humans are causing climate change, we are all screwed. Or: take steps to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, and if it turns out there is no human-caused climate change after all, there is still no harm done (we get less pollution and we reduce geo-political risk related to oil, etc.) The choice seems like a no-brainer to a lot of people.

              Peace out.

            2. Talking down to me isn’t going to get you very far. I have worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry for over two decades. Prior to that I was an industrial designer. My career has spanned all the way from the fine arts to detail oriented mechanical engineering. So you better bet I understand probability and statistics, and I understand the scientific method as we routinely use both at work. In my industry people die if we get our numbers wrong.

              Again, I don’t think you fully read or comprehended what I wrote. I never denied that climate change was happening nor did I deny that human activity had an influence. You need to do a little homework and brush up on your climate science and your attitude. Because it stinks.

              Peace out..? OMG. Now I know I’m dealing with a child and probably waisting my time. Goodbye.

            3. With all your credentials, then, you surely know what an ad hominem attack is. Address the issues. Your thinking is not as rigid as you believe.

              Reread your comments to me if you want to see who is talking down to whom.

              Exactly what I said: you think you are right but you are wrong.

              Incidentally, I am 62., PhD in Economics, retired at age 57.

              And you, sir, are a pompous ass…

    2. Do you just make it as you go along? A master of fake news. BMW has enjoyed record profiitabililty despite sales squeezes in North America and Asia. The link you posted leads to what is little other than a one page history of BMW.

      I hate stupid and you are right there.

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