World smartphone sales growth down says Gartner

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But overall sales were still up over 13 percent in the second quarter

Worldwide smartphone sales recorded their slowest growth rate since 2013 in the second quarter of 2015, according to analyst Gartner. But sales of smartphones to end users still totalled 330 million units, an increase of 13.5 percent over the same period in 2014.

“While demand for lower-cost 3G and 4G smartphones continued to drive growth in emerging markets, overall smartphone sales remained mixed region by region in the second quarter of 2015,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Emerging Asia/Pacific (excluding China), Eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa regions were the fastest-growing markets, driven by good performance from Chinese and local vendors. By contrast, smartphone sales in China fell for the first time year over year, recording a 4 percent decline.

“China is the biggest country for smartphone sales, representing 30 percent of total sales of smartphones in the second quarter of 2015. Its poor performance negatively affected the performance of the mobile phone market in the second quarter,” said Gupta. “China has reached saturation – its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers.”

Samsung Tizen2Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung’s premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple’s large-screen iPhones. Although still the market leader, Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3 per cent in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.

Huawei recorded the highest sales growth rate of 46.3 percent, thanks to strong overseas sales and 4G smartphone sales in China. iPhone sales increased 36 per cent, which helped Apple gain 2.4 percentage points in market share. Apple recorded strong iPhone replacements in both emerging and mature markets, particularly in China. Total iPhone sales in China grew 68 per cent to 11.9 million units.

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android’s global share was affected by the weak performance of China in the second quarter of 2015 and the strong performance in China of Apple, which has taken share from Android for the last three quarters. “Android saw its lowest year-over-year growth of 11 percent with its overall share reaching 82.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2015,” said Gupta.

Microsoft continued to struggle to generate wider demand for Windows Phone devices, even at the lower end. “In light of Microsoft’s recent cuts in its mobile hardware business, we’ll await signs of its long-term commitment in the smartphone market,” Gupta said.

“The low barrier to entry into the Android segment will continue to encourage an array of new players, adding to further disruptions coming from Chinese manufacturing and innovative internet players with new business models that are not reliant on hardware margins,” he said.

Total worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled 446 million units during the second quarter of 2015.