Apple loses No. 1 spot in smartphone market after steep sales dip

Following a brief sojourn at the top of the table, Apple has dropped down to the number-two spot (by units shipped) in the global smartphone market.

According to IDC’s figures for the first quarter of 2024, Samsung has moved back to the top position with 60.1 million shipments, a market share of 20.8 percent. Apple is in second place with 50.1 million (17.3 percent) while the Chinese firm Xiaomi sits in third place with 40.8 million units and a share of 14.1 percent.

Samsung outperformed Apple across 2023 as a whole, but the Cupertino company did top the table at the end of the year. Apple traditionally performs especially well in the fall/early winter period following its annual iPhone refresh in September.

Nevertheless, Apple’s drop back to second spot isn’t just about the expected difference between its seasonally hot Q4 and slow Q1. The company’s year-on-year comparison was markedly worse than that of Samsung, and indeed of all the other companies in the top 5. While Apple’s Q1 2024 was 9.6 percent down on Q1 2023, Oppo was down by 8.5 percent and Samsung by just 0.7 percent. Third-place Xiaomi and fourth-place Transsion (which has a strong foothold in Africa) were both up year on year, by 33.8 percent and 84.9 percent respectively.

“While Apple managed to capture the top spot at the end of 2023, Samsung successfully reasserted itself as the leading smartphone provider in the first quarter,” commented IDC group vice president Ryan Reith. “While IDC expects these two companies to maintain their hold on the high end of the market, the resurgence of Huawei in China, as well as notable gains from Xiaomi, Transsion, Oppo/OnePlus, and vivo will likely have both OEMs looking for areas to expand and diversify.”

It’s worth emphasising, however, that (while second place isn’t bad by any means) Apple would do considerably better if the terms of the analysis were tweaked. For one thing, measuring by unit shipments punishes Apple (and, to a lesser extent, Samsung) for selling premium, high-margin phones rather than focusing on volume. If the table was organized by revenue or, better still, profit, a lot of Apple’s rivals would fall by the wayside.

Secondly, while Apple has strong rivals on the global stage, the company’s dominance in its home market is profound. If you asked a random group of U.S. teenagers which brand of phone they intend to buy next time, the proportion naming Apple would be startling.

Still, aside from inter-brand squabbles, IDC’s figures appear to paint a rosy picture of the industry as a whole, with overall shipments up 7.8% on the same period last year. “The smartphone market is emerging from the turbulence of the last two years both stronger and changed,” said IDC research director Nabila Popal.

Source : Macworld