Smartphone sales see slowest growth since 2008


Grew a mere 9.7% in fourth quarter 2015

Smartphone sales have slumped, with figures showing that growth in the fourth quarter 2015 hit the slowest growth rate for the devices since 2008.

Global sales of smartphones to end users totalled 403 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, a 9.7% increase over the same period in 2014, according to Gartner. In 2015 as a whole, smartphone sales reached 1.4 billion units, an increase of 14.4% from 2014.

Said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner: “Low cost smartphones in emerging markets, and strong demand for premium smartphones, continued to be the driving factors. An aggressive pricing from local and Chinese brands in the midrange and entry-level segments of emerging markets led to consumers upgrading more quickly to affordable smartphones.”

Gupta said that 85% of users in the emerging Asia-Pacific market are replacing their current midrange phone with the same category of phone. In addition, currency devaluations against the US dollar in many emerging markets are putting further margin pressure on many vendors that import devices. Current market conditions are prompting some vendors to consider setting up manufacturing operations in India and Indonesia to avoid being hit by future unfavourable currency devaluations and high import taxes.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Samsung and Huawei were the only two top five smartphone vendors to increase their sales to end users; Samsung in first place on the marketshare table rose from 19.9% marketshare in the fourth quarter 2014, up to 20.7% marketshare in the same quarter 2015. Meanwhile Huawei in third place on the table went from 5.7% in the fourth quarter 2014 to 8% in the same quarter a year later.

Apple, in second place on the marketshare table, suffered its first decline in sales of smartphones; iPhone sales were down 4.4%, from 20.4% in the quarter 2014, down to 17.7% in the fourth quarter 2015.

Although Samsung was the number one vendor, Gartner’s Gupta said the company faces challenges: “For Samsung to stop falling sales of premium smartphones, it needs to introduce new flagship smartphones that can compete with iPhones and stop the churn to iOS devices.”

With an increase in sales of 53% in the fourth quarter of 2015, Huawei achieved the best performance year over year. Huawei’s increased brand visibility overseas, and its decision to sell almost only smartphones, gave it a higher average selling price in 2015.

For total sales of smartphones in 2015, Samsung maintained the number one position with 22.5% of the total marketshare, but its market share declined by 2.2 percentage points. In 2015, Apple sold 225.9 million iPhones, to achieve a market share of 15.9%. Huawei’s smartphone sales approached 104 million units in 2015, up 53% year over year, taking it to 7.3% marketshare overall.

In terms of smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android increased 16.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, to account for 80.7% of the global total. Said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner:  “Android benefited from continued demand for affordable smartphones and from the slowdown of iOS units in the premium market in the fourth quarter of 2015.”

In the premium segment, despite Apple’s slower year on year fourth quarter sales, Apple narrowed the market share gap with Samsung in 2015 as a whole.


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