Samsung still leading but Apple closes in while Huawei closes in on Apple

As is the case every three months, IDC (International Data Corporation) releases quarterly figures for top smartphone manufacturers in the world (along with some additional info). IDC is back with it’s numbers for Q3 2016 and all one can say is that the Galaxy Note 7 did indeed damage Samsung a lot. It had a serious impact on the company’s profits in the third quarter of this year, as Samsung managed to produce the worst results in the last 8 years.

But still, that wasn’t enough to bring Samsung down from the number one spot. Although, it previously out-shipped the next two smartphone makers — Apple and Huawei — combined, that lead did not hold this time around. Because of the iPhone 7 doing well, and the Note 7 not, Apple has closed in on the gap a whole lot. That doesn’t necessarily mean Apple’s declining iPhone sales have started showing signs of recovery though because Huawei, is now closer than ever to Apple.


Huawei is turning out to be a major force in the Smartphone market and when its CEO aid he will see to it that Huawei is up there above Apple, he wasn’t kidding.

Smartphone manufacturers have managed to sell 362.9 million smartphones in the third quarter of this year, which means that global smartphone sales are up 1% compared to the same period last year (359.3 million units). After two flat quarters in a row, smartphones have seen a slight return to year-over-year growth. It would have been even greater had Samsung not had to recall its Note7 flagship phone.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2016 Preliminary Data (Units in Millions)
Vendor 3Q16 Shipment Volumes 3Q16 Market Share 3Q15 Shipment Volumes 3Q15 Market Share Year-Over-Year Change
Samsung 72.5 20.0% 83.8 23.3% -13.5%
Apple 45.5 12.5% 48.0 13.4% -5.3%
Huawei 33.6 9.3% 27.3 7.6% 23.0%
OPPO 25.3 7.0% 11.4 3.2% 121.6%
vivo 21.2 5.8% 10.5 2.9% 102.5%
Others 164.8 45.4% 178.2 49.6% -7.5%
Total 362.9 100.0% 359.3 100.0% 1.0%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, October 26, 2016

As you can see above, Samsung’s market share fell 3.3 percentage points (from 23.3 percent to 20.0 percent) as it shipped 11.3 million fewer smartphones (72.5 million). Every quarter, Samsung owns about a fifth of the market, and this time it just barely held on. IDC believes the success of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge helped maintain volumes despite the Note7 fiasco (the totals above exclude recalled and unsold Note7s). Samsung’s more affordable J Series continued to perform well in both developed and emerging markets.

Apple, even though closed in on Samsung, slipped 0.9 points (to 12.5 percent), marking the third year-over-year decline for the company’s smartphone sales. Put another way, Apple isn’t benefiting much from Samsung’s woes, at least not right now. It’s just not doing as bad as Samsung.

Now, things are also interesting in 4th and 5th place where we can find two China-based companies, OPPO and Vivo. These two companies are doing great, as they’ve managed to ship over 100% more devices than in the same period last year. OPPO had shipped out 121.6% more devices than in Q3 2015, while Vivo had sold 102.5% more devices. OPPO had occupied 7% of the market in Q3 this year, while Vivo took 5.8%. This is very interesting considering these two companies are mainly active in Asia. OPPO had sold 25.3 million smartphones in Q3 this year, while Vivo had shipped out 21.2 million handsets.


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