For the first time ever smartphone sales fell overall in the Q4 of 2017.
2017 may have been a record year for smartphone sellers, but the market is weakening: for the first time since 2004, there were fewer smartphone sales in the fourth quarter.
Gartner claims that this slump in sales comes due to fewer people switching their feature phones for smartphones "due to a lack of quality "ultra-low-cost" smartphones" and instead are buying nicer feature phones. The introduction of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades for the iPhones 8 and 8 Plus, suggests Gupta, adding component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints - the phone's 3-D sensor that recognizes faces and unlocks the handset were giving Apple partners and laser suppliers headaches - negatively impacted Apple's numbers.
So, as we break down this data, it shows that Samsung had sold 76.7 million units during Q4 2016 but saw this number decline to 74 million during Q4 2017. The US-based company sold 73.17 million smartphones in the December quarter against 77.03 million a year ago. First, the later availability of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as users waited to try the more expensive model. The Korean company took an 18.2 percent share of sales, up from 17.8 percent in Q4 2016 when it tied with Apple.
Across 2017 as a whole, 1.5 billion smartphones were sold, up 2.7 percent on the previous year.
Huawei has launched a selection of new smartphones over the past year in different pricing brackets and Xiaomi is becoming an increasingly competitive force in the market due to a focus on affordable low and mid-range handsets.
Apple recorded the largest year-on-year drop in unit sales between Q4 2016 and Q4 2017, a decline of 5% or nearly 400,000 units, although this compares with a relatively modest decline of 0.5% for the year as a whole.
Gartner says it's expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018, now that the flagship's delivery cycle has returned to normal. Huawei and Xiaomi were the only vendors to experience growth in the fourth quarter.
Xiaomi's competitive smartphone portfolio consists of its Mi and Redmi models, which helped accelerate its growth in the emerging Asia-Pacific (APAC) market, as well as its regained hold in the domestic market shares back in China. The iOS-powered devices also saw a defeat in the worldwide sales, where Android won a one-sided match with over 85% market share. "Increasing sales in Indonesia and other markets in emerging Asia Pacific region will position Xiaomi as a strong global brand", Gupta said.