Gartner Smartphone Study Finds Device Sales Competition Heating Up

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2017-02-17
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Gartner Smartphone Study Finds Device Sales Competition Heating Up
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    Gartner Smartphone Study Finds Device Sales Competition Heating Up

    Gartner's smartphone sales report for the 2016 fourth quarter shows Apple and Samsung remain the tops handset makers, but they are starting to face sales pressure from Chinese producers.
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    Total Fourth-Quarter Smartphone Sales Increased 7 Percent
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    Total Fourth-Quarter Smartphone Sales Increased 7 Percent

    The smartphone market saw a strong end to 2016. According to Gartner, 431.5 million smartphones were sold during the period, up nearly 30 million units from the 403.1 million companies sold worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2015.
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    Apple Remains the Smartphone Market Leader
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    Apple Remains the Smartphone Market Leader

    Apple nabbed the top spot in the fourth quarter, with 77 million iPhone sales. According to Gartner, Apple captured 17.9 percent market share, boosting its slice of the worldwide smartphone space by 0.2 percentage points. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Apple sold 71.5 million iPhones.
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    Samsung Comes in Second Place
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    Samsung Comes in Second Place

    Samsung owned 20.7 percent of the smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2015. But in the fourth quarter of 2016, the company’s total sales fell by nearly 7 million units to 76.8 million. Samsung’s market share fell to 17.8 percent, second place behind Apple.
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    The Galaxy Note7 Causes Trouble
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    The Galaxy Note7 Causes Trouble

    Samsung’s problems during the fourth quarter were caused by the company’s decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note7, Gartner said. Samsung effectively left the big-screen smartphone market to Apple, allowing the iPhone maker to take the top spot.
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    The Huawei Growth Play
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    The Huawei Growth Play

    China-based Huawei has proven to be one of the big growth stories on the year. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the company sold 32.1 million handsets worldwide and captured 8 percent market share. In the fourth quarter of 2016, its sales soared to 40.8 million units, giving Huawei 9.5 percent share. Its star likely will continue to rise.
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    A Big Year for 2016
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    A Big Year for 2016

    Gartner reported that 1.5 billion smartphones were sold worldwide in 2016. That was up from the 1.4 billion smartphones customers purchased in 2015, according to the research firm’s data.
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    Samsung Tops the Annual Performance
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    Samsung Tops the Annual Performance

    Although the Galaxy Note7 impacted Samsung’s fourth quarter, the company was still able to take the top spot for total smartphone sales in 2016. The company sold 306.4 million handsets on the year, earning it 20.5 percent share. However, that number was down from the 320.2 million Samsung sold in 2015.
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    Apple’s Market Sales Decline
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    Apple’s Market Sales Decline

    It was a rough year for Apple, too. The iPhone maker saw a strong end to 2016, but its smartphone sales slid to 216.1 million on an annual basis. Apple sold 225.9 million iPhones in 2015. Apple’s 2016 market share stood at 14.4 percent, down from 15.9 percent in 2015.
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    Huawei’s Star is Soaring
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    Huawei’s Star is Soaring

    Huawei’s strong fourth quarter was part of a broad trend for the China-based company last year. Huawei sold 132.8 million smartphones in 2016, up nearly 30 million units from the 104.1 million the company sold in 2015. Huawei’s market share jumped from 7.3 percent to 8.9 percent year over year.
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    Android Remains the Top Mobile OS
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    Android Remains the Top Mobile OS

    In mobile operating systems, Gartner discovered that Android is tops, running on 352.7 million handsets at the end of 2016 and earning it 81.7 percent market share. That was up slightly from the 325.4 million Android devices sold at the end of 2015. Apple’s iOS came in a distant second with 17.9 percent share in 2016. Microsoft’s Windows mustered only 0.3 percent market share during the period.
 

The smartphone market is growing and becoming more competitive. That’s the major takeaway from research firm Gartner’s latest report on worldwide smartphone sales for both the 2016 fourth quarter and calendar year. Gartner, which released its findings Feb. 15, reported that the smartphone market’s overall sales were up 5 percent in 2016 and 7 percent in the fourth quarter. The company also said that Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 big-screen smartphone, which was pulled from the market because overheating batteries that caught fire or exploded, hurt the company's mobile device sales in the fourth quarter. Samsung's woes allowed Apple to score the most smartphone sales in the quarter. Gartner's report also noted that Chinese smartphone makers selling lower-priced handsets were encroaching on Apple's and Samsung's market. The competition for smartphone supremacy will kick into high gear as 2017 progresses, Gartner noted that there's a chance that Apple and Samsung will be overtaken by the lower-cost alternatives. This eWEEK slide show will dig into Gartner’s findings and reveal which companies prevailed in the fourth quarter of 2016. Read on to learn more:

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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