The Rise of "Others"

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Can you name the top 5 makers of smartphones? Apple, Samsung...uh, well a few others come to mind.

One PlusSamsung remains the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer, but its market share slid 2.2% year-on-year by the end of 2015. They hold 22.5% market share while Apple fell 4.4% to a 15.9% share, according to Gartner.

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 403 million units in Q4 2015, a 9.7% increase over the same period in 2014. Yet this is the slowest growth rate since 2008. In all of 2015, smartphone sales reached 1.4 billion units, an increase of 14.4% from 2014.

In Q4 2015, Samsung and Huawei were the only two top-five smartphone vendors to increase their sales to end users. Apple suffered its first decline in sales of smartphones — iPhone sales were down 4.4 percent.

Below is a Gartner chart that tells the tale... would you have guessed Huawei (maybe), Xiaomi (maybe) and Lenovo (if you lived in Asia, perhaps) are in the Top 5?

Who holds the largest market share in smartphones? 43.4% of the market share is held by the ignomious Others.

Some of the brand names you might have guessed... LG, HTC, Sony, Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola (mixed in under Lenovo), Alcatel, ZTE, Nexus... are in this category presumably because they have less than 4% market share.

On one hand, it also includes a group of premium "flagship killers" such as the One Plus [shown in photo above]. On the other hand, hundreds of mid-market phones manufactured by numerous unknown brands (although sometimes sold under famous brands) make up the bulk of this category. Each day they make better & better smartphones.

The challenge that faces Samsung in its competition with Apple is actually the same one it and Apple both face against the horde known as "Others." Unless Samsung and Apple can push out new technology, breakthrough innovations... then the gap between brand and "flagship killers" will narrow at a rapid pace.

The top two brands can't keep a big sales lead by implementing small design and performance change. For example, Galaxy 7 will not rock the market by adding waterproofing and restoring the well-missed microSD slot. It may sell well to some Samsung fans and convince a few upgraders, but experts are predicting the ASP will drop within 3 months of launch. That proves it is selling as fashion and not as tech innovation.

The Others are coming. And we predict their market share, already the largest at 43.4%, will become the majority on Gartner's 2017 market share charts.

Gartner smartphone sales 2015

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