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Smartphone uptake passes its peak as industry appetite wanes

James Henderson | May 3, 2016
Vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16), up slightly from the 334.3 million units in 1Q15, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record.

The S7 also brought the reintroduction of a microSD card slot in combination with waterproofing, which looks to have paid off for the Korean giant as early sales look healthy.

Within emerging markets, Samsung has performed well with its more affordable J-series as it looks to capture both budget conscious consumers and first-time buyers.

Apple

Apple's saw its first-ever year-over-year decline in the first quarter as volumes slipped to 51.2 million units, down 16.3 percent from last year. Despite the plethora of new features found on the newer "S" models, current iPhone 6/6 Plus owners may feel that a 6S upgrade may not be warranted at the moment.

Apple also announced the new iPhone SE, which looks to challenge similarly priced Android options in numerous emerging markets where Apple has traditionally been seen as too expensive.

The SE features all the power of the 6S in a compact form factor that looks to equally target those who desire smaller phones as well. However, at US$399, the SE still faces equally powerful lower-priced devices from competitors, particularly within India and China.

As Apple CEO Cook mentioned on the company's earnings call, the SE will begin having an impact on iPhone shipments in the second quarter of 2016.

Huawei

Huawei's continued domestic dominance, combined with a growing presence outside of China, enabled it to capture the number 3 position worldwide in 1Q16.

Shipment volume for Huawei climbed from 17.4 million units in 1Q15 to 27.5 million this quarter for year-over-year growth of 58.4 percent.

Huawei's two-pronged approach with a focus on both premium and entry-level devices proved successful in China as well as in many developed European markets.

The recent launch of the P9 smartphone featuring Leica optics provided an additional weapon with which to combat Apple and Samsung. Premium devices like the P9, Mate Series, and Nexus 6, along with entry level devices from its Honor brand, should help Huawei gain further traction worldwide.

 

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