[THE INVESTOR] China’s top three smartphone makers, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, are fast catching up with the market shares of Samsung Electronics and Apple,based on their affordable prices and premium stylings, according to a US research firm.
According to the latest report published by IDC, the combined smartphone shipments by the three Chinese firms increased by 15.5 million units on-year to 77.9 million units in the first quarter. During the same period, Samsung and Apple remained essentially flat with shipments reaching 79.2 million units and 51.6 million units, respectively.
The combined market share of the three Chinese firms increased by 3.7 percentage points on-year to 22.4 percent in the January-March period, while Samsung and Apple’s share dropped by 1 percentage point and 0.5 percent point to 22.8 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively.
IDC said the clear winners in the global smartphone market were currently Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo, which have all outpaced market growth for over a year.
“Although we have seen an abundance of premium redesigned flagships that just entered the market, we still expect most of the growth to come from more affordable models in a variety of markets” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker.
The prices of Chinese handsets’ premium phones are around half those of Samsung and Apple. Huawei’s first premium phone P9, unveiled late last year, is sold for around 600,000 won ($520) and Oppo’s flagship model R9 is around 500,000 won. Samsung and Apple’s premium phones are sold for around 1 million won.
The report said the world’s largest smartphone maker Samsung’s strong sales were also driven by affordable models.
“Samsung’s affordable models J-series and A-series drove significant volumes in both emerging and developed markets due to flagship-like design at more affordable price points,” IDC said.
Also, substantial discounts on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge helped boost last year’s flagship models -- the new S8 and S8 Plus, the company said.
IDC predicted the global smartphone industry would see a rebound this year after suffering a single digit growth of 2.5 percent last year. Prior to the disappointing 2016, the global smartphone market enjoyed double-digit growth for 9 years from 2007 to 2015.
Worldwide smartphone shipments grew 4.3 percent in the first quarter on-year, which was slightly higher than IDC’s previous forecast of 3.6 percent growth.
“There is no question that 2016 was a pivotal year for the industry, as growth dipped to low single digits for the first time. However, we believe the industry will show some rebound in 2017, and strong first quarter results certainly support this argument,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile device trackers.
The report said big flagship announcements from Huawei with the P10 devices and Samsung with the Galaxy S8 devices show that innovation is still possible. Despite any formal announcements from Apple, it is safe to say the industry is highly anticipating this year’s iPhone announcements, the report said.
By Shin Ji-hye/The Korea Herald (email@example.com)