Global smartphone sales see worst drop ever in 2018, survey shows

Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Washington — Global smartphone sales saw their worst contraction in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 is  not much better, new surveys show.

Worldwide handset volumes declined 4.1%  in 2018 to a total of 1.4-billion units shipped for the full year, according to research firm IDC, which sees a potential for further declines this year.

“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith.

“Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, (South) Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.”

Reith said the market has been hit by consumers waiting longer to replace their phones, frustration around the high cost of premium devices, and political and economic uncertainty.

The Chinese market, which accounts for roughly 30%  of smartphone sales, was especially hard hit with a 10% drop, according to IDC's survey.

IDC said the top five smartphone makers have become stronger and now account for 69%  of worldwide sales, up from 63%  a year ago.

Samsung remained the number one handset maker with a 20.8%  share despite a 8% sales slump for the year.

Apple managed to recapture the number two position with a 14.9%  market share, moving ahead of Huawei at 14.7%.

IDC said fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 4.9%   the fifth consecutive quarter of decline. The challenging holiday quarter closed out the worst year for smartphone shipments, it said.

A separate report by Counterpoint Research showed similar findings, estimating a 7% drop  in the fourth quarter and a 4% drop for the full year.

"The collective smartphone shipment growth of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and others was not enough to offset the decline in China," said Counterpoint associate director Tarun Pathak.