Smartphone sales have increased around 5% in 2016, compared to 2015. The main hardware competitors are still Apple vs. Samsung, although Chinese manufacturers are increasing their market share.
"This is the second consecutive quarter in which Samsung has delivered falling quarterly smartphone sales," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “Samsung's smartphone sales declined 8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year on year.”
"Samsung's smartphone sales started to drop in the third quarter of 2016, and the decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 slowed down sales of its smartphone portfolio in the fourth quarter," added Mr Gupta. "The withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 left a gap in its large-screen phone range." Samsung also faced growing competition in the midtier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all grew their sales each quarter.
Closest Quarter Ever Between Samsung and Apple
It has taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the No. 1 global smartphone vendor ranking, but the positions of the two leaders have never been so close, with only 256,000 units difference. "The last time Apple was in the leading position was in the fourth quarter of 2014, when its sales were driven by its first ever large-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus," said Mr Gupta. "This time it achieved it thanks to strong sales of its flagship phones — the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; it also benefited from the weakened demand for Samsung's smartphones in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, and in some mature markets in Asia such as Australia and South Korea.
According to Gartner, Apple managed to win some ground over Samsung in the smartphone market but in the OS market Android is the clear winner internationally, with an 81.7% market share compared to Apple’s 17.9%; Windows and Blackberry are hardly worth mentioning.
2017 could be an interesting year for smartphones, with Nokia planning a comeback, the Chinese gaining ground and Google pushing forward with their Pixel phones.
Further information is available in the Gartner report entitled "Market Share: Final PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, All Countries, 4Q16."