By MARK RAO / Pic By Aliff Abd Halim
Rising demand for 4G technology has sparked higher smartphone sales in the second-quarter (2Q) of this year, supported by greater China and emerging Asia-Pacific markets.
According to research and advisory firm Gartner Inc, global sales grew 6.7% year-on-year (YoY) to 366.2 million units for the quarter, with China and Asia Pacific collectively accounting for close to half of the units sold.
“Although demand for utility smartphones remains strong, there is a growing demand in emerging markets for 4G smartphones, with more storage, better processors and more advanced cameras,” Gartner research director Anshul Gupta said in a statement yesterday.
“This is translating into higher demand for mid-priced (US$150 [RM641.70] to US$200) smartphones.”
The emerging Asia-Pacific market grew in market share to 21.4% in the 2Q ,versus 17.3% a year ago, with 78.24 million units sold, boosted by higher smartphone penetration in India, Indonesia and Sout-East Asia.
While the greater China region commanded the strongest market share globally at 27.7% or 101.52 million units sold, its share of smartphone sales was lower than the 33.3% rate recorded a year earlier.
Gupta said the decline was largely attributable to the longer replacement cycles and user preference for better quality smartphones in the region.
“Large vendors continued to strengthen their positions by increasing their market share, while smaller brands lost ground in greater China,” he said.
Mainstay smartphone brands all registered stronger market shares for the period, with Samsung and Apple continuing to lead sales.
Samsung Group increased its market share marginally to 22.5% or 82.5 million smartphones sold in the 2Q, while rival Apple Inc trailed behind with a 12.1% share for a total 44.31 million units sold. The US-based company’s market share fell from the 12.9% rate achieved a year ago.
Samsung sales were up 7.5% YoY for the quarter after recording three consecutive declines, as its Galaxy S8 and S8+ models are spurring demand for the Korean brand.
iPhone sales were flat for the period, down by 0.2%, despite clearing 3.3 million units in inventory. However, Gupta said Apple sales in emerging markets are predicted to rise as older-generation iPhones continue to attract buyers.
“The new iOS 11 will likely fuel strong iPhone sales in the 4Q and help Apple increase its sales for the year,” he said.
Chinese brands continued to assert their presence in the global smartphone market, with Huawei leading the way with a 9.8% market share and 17.2% higher sales in the 2Q. The company sold a total of 35.96 million units.
Vivo and Oppo registered the strongest growth for the period, achieving higher YoY sales by 70.8% and 44.1% respectively. Oppo sold a total of 26.09 million units capturing a 7.1% market share, while Vivo sold 24.32 million units for a 6.6% share.
Gupta said the stronger performance achieved by both companies was underpinned by their camera technology, with Vivo’s front-facing cameras and Oppo’s dual rear-facing and front-facing cameras.
Going forward, concern remains over rising component costs and limited supply, both of which could dampen smartphone sales globally.
“We expect the shortage of flash memory and organic light-emitting diode displays will affect premium smartphone supply in the second-half of this year,” Gupta said.
“We have already seen Huawei’s P10 suffer from a flash memory shor-tage, while smaller and traditional brands such as HTC, LG and Sony are stuck between aggressive Chinese brands and the dominating market shares of Samsung and Apple in the premium smartphone segment.”