Apple is new smartphone king, but market declined 5% in 4Q 2020

Apple sold the most smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2020, shipping 80 million, according to the latest study from Gartner.  It was the first since the same quarter of 2016 that Apple was the top smartphone vendor (it’s phones are made by Foxconn).
For the full year, Apple passed Huawei to take second place after Samsung.  Apple’s strong holiday quarter and the new Gartner estimates suggest the company’s family of iPhone 12 devices, with 5G capability and a new external design, is a hit in the marketplace. Those new devices weren’t even on sale for the entire period.  The numbers also indicate Apple has weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than its competitors.A competing report from IDC released last month showed Apple shipped 90.1 million phones in the quarter. In terms of smartphone shipments, that’s the single best quarter for any company, IDC’s report said.

Apple doesn’t report unit sales for its devices. However, the company said revenue from iPhones grew by 17% in the fourth quarter of calendar 2020 on a year-over-year basis to $65.6 billion. Apple’s business is seasonal, and the quarter ending in December is usually the company’s biggest in terms of sales.

Smartphone sales fell in Q4 2020 by 5.4 percent year-on-year to 384.6 million.  For 2020, they decreased 12.5 percent to 1.347 billion. Declines in Q4 were tempered by the sale of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones, even as people remained cautious about spending amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest shipments decline was from Huawei, which saw unit sales drop by 24.1% in 2020, as the Chinese smartphone maker struggles with U.S. sanctions that have hampered its handset business. Samsung doesn’t face the same challenge but still saw shipments fall 14.6% last year, according to Gartner.

“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”

Table 1. Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q20 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 4Q20

Sales

4Q20 Market Share (%) 4Q19

Sales

4Q19 Market Share (%) 4Q20-4Q19 Growth (%)
Apple 79,942.7 20.8 69,550.6 17.1 14.9
Samsung 62,117.0 16.2 70,404.4 17.3 -11.8
Xiaomi 43,430.3 11.3 32,446.9 8.0 33.9
OPPO 34,373.7 8.9 30,452.5 7.5 12.9
Huawei 34,315.7 8.9 58,301.6 14.3 -41.1
Others 130,442.8 33.9 145,482.1 35.8 -10.3
Total 384,622.3 100.0 406,638.1 100.0 -5.4

Due to rounding, some figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

Full Year 2020 Results:

Samsung experienced a year-on-year decline of 14.6% in 2020, but this did not prevent it from retaining its No. 1 global smartphone vendor position in full year results. It faced tough competition from regional smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo as these brands grew more aggressive in global markets. In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five ranking to experience growth.

Huawei recorded the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors which made it lose the No. 2 position to Apple in 2020 (see Table 2). The impact of the ban on use of Google applications on Huawei’s smartphones was detrimental to Huawei’s performance in the year and negatively affected sales.

Table 2. Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2020 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 2020

Sales

2020

Market Share (%)

2019

Sales

2019

Market Share (%)

2020-2019

Growth (%)

Samsung 253,025.0 18.8 296,194.0 19.2 -14.6
Apple 199,847.3 14.8 193,475.1 12.6 3.3
Huawei 182,610.2 13.5 240,615.5 15.6 -24.1
Xiaomi 145,802.7 10.8 126,049.2 8.2 15.7
OPPO 111,785.2 8.3 118,693.2 7.7 -5.8
Others 454,799.4 33.7 565,630.0 36.7 -19.6
Total 1,347,869.8 100.0 1,540,657.0 100.0 -12.5

Due to rounding, some figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

“In 2021, the availability of lower end 5G smartphones and innovative features will be deciding factors for end users to upgrade their existing smartphones,” said Mr. Gupta. “The rising demand for affordable 5G smartphones outside China will  boost smartphone sales in 2021.

References:

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