Global Smartphone Shipments Down 6 Percent in 3Q18
According to preliminary data from IDC, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 355.2 million units during the third quarter of 2018 (3Q18), resulting in a year-over-year decline of 6.0%. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the global smartphone market, which raises questions about the market's future. IDC maintains its view that the market will return to growth in 2019, but at this stage it is too early to tell what that growth will look like.
While the overall smartphone market has declined for four straight quarters, two things stand out as major factors in the third quarter. Samsung, the largest smartphone vendor in terms of market share, accounting for 20.3% of shipments in 3Q18, declined 13.4%. And secondly, China, which is the largest country market for smartphone consumption, accounting for roughly one third of global shipments, was down as well for the sixth consecutive quarter.
Samsung had a very challenging quarter with smartphone shipments down 13.4% from 3Q17, with overall volumes of 72.2 million. While this was still enough to maintain the top market share position, the company does continue to lose share. The launch of the Galaxy Note 9 was successful and the device continues to build in shipments. However, Samsung's bigger challenge is the ground they are losing at the mid-range and low-end.
Huawei landed in the number two position for the second straight quarter. While its share was down slightly from last quarter's 15.9%, overall the company should be pleased with shipping 52.0 million handsets and grabbing 14.6% of the overall market. From a product perspective, its P-series and recent update to its Mate-series are keeping it competitive as ever at the top of the market. And its Honor brand, which is primarily marketed toward a younger audience and online sales, has continued to do well in many markets.
Apple's newest iPhones helped push third quarter shipments to 46.9 million units, up 0.5% from the 46.7 million units last year. Apple once again launched three new devices at its Fall event, as the new 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max and 5.8-inch iPhone XS were joined by the more affordable iPhone XR in the Apple line-up. Older iPhones, such as the 6S, 7, and 8, all received price cuts late in the quarter, which will balance the iPhone portfolio across all price tiers for the holiday quarter. The fourth quarter will include shipments for the vastly popular iPhone XR, which have not been counted in IDC's Q3 figures.
Xiaomi once again grew its share to a new company high capturing 9.7% of all smartphones shipped worldwide in 3Q18. Xiaomi continues its global expansion with market share gains in countries where it has been growing it presence, including India and Indonesia, and making headway into European markets like Spain where it continues to cause disruption.
OPPO like Samsung saw shipments decline year over year, although on a much smaller scale. Despite that, OPPO remained the number 5 vendor in terms of market share with 29.9 million shipments in 3Q18, down 2.1% from a year ago. Like a few of its competitors that continue to climb the smartphone ladder, OPPO is beginning to gain global attention for some of its newer flagship devices that have come with highly marketed launch events.
Top 5 Companies, Shipments, Share, and Growth, 3Q18 (shipments in millions)