The latest research conducted by the Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, indicated that the global smartphone shipments witnessed a decline of 4 percent annually in the fourth quarter of 2018, making it the fifth consecutive quarter of smartphone decline.

The researchers attributed the decline to a number of factors. Chiefly, is the refusal of user to replace their smartphone, especially in developed markets of US, China and Western Europe. “Consumers held on to their devices longer due to the absence of groundbreaking innovations and higher prices of devices being offered by the OEMs,” said Tarun Pathak Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.

Thus, Smartphone OEMs are looking to launch devices with innovative designs and specifications such as 5G, foldable displays, punch-hole cameras, full-screen in-display fingerprint scanners to lure consumers to upgrade in 2019.

At the front of these attempts is Chinese OEMs Huawei, Oppo, vivo, Xiaomi (HOVX), who are improving their quality and taking the lead at launching these new features, knowing that the market has become tough for both global brands and local brands alike to sustain market share.

Here are the 7 key takeaways from the research

  • The global smartphone market declined for the first time ever as consumers held onto their devices longer, especially higher-end phones. Many did not see a need to upgrade as the available phones were too expensive without offering any groundbreaking innovation that would move them to upgrade their older device.
  • For Q4 2018, Huawei, OPPO and vivo continue to dominate with strong performances in China, India, Asia and parts of Europe. The trio have multiple regions to enter and grow moving forward into 2019.
  • Samsung and Apple saw a tough quarter and tough 2018 as demand for their flagship phones have waned due to competition from affordable premium and more cutting-edge phones from Chinese brands such as Huawei and OnePlus.
  • Apple has already attempted to reduce prices in China to alleviate the fall. This will not have a lot of impact on China sales. A small price cut will not move the dial. More effective will be Apple’s buy-back programs and installment plans which will be rolled out into more countries.
  • Xiaomi reached a record fourth position for the full year after two years of setbacks thanks to immense growth in India. It has surpassed OPPO globally to take back the fourth position.
  • BBK Group (which owns OPPO, Realme, vivo and OnePlus brands) is collectively the world’s third largest manufacturer, even bigger than Huawei in terms of volume.

Huawei continues to have its sights on Apple and should surpass Apple as the second largest brand globally in 2019 if it doesn’t face any sanctions from the US in the way ZTE was cut-off from US suppliers (e.g. Google, Qualcomm, US RF components, etc.



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