Gartner: Low-Cost Drives Q1 2016 Smartphone Sales

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According to Gartner Q1 2016 global smartphone sales total 349 million units-- a 3.9% Y-o-Y increase driven by low-cost smartphone demand in emerging markets and 4G smartphone promotions by many telcos around the world.

Smartphones make 78% of overall Q1 2016 mobile phone sales.

Gartner Q1 2016 smartphone sales

"In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands' long-standing business models to increase their share," the analyst says. "With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands. Two Chinese brands ranked within the top five worldwide smartphone vendors in Q1 2015, and represented 11% of the market. In Q1 2016, there were three Chinese brands-- Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi-- and they achieved 17% of the market."

Thus, while Samsung and Apple retain a smartphone market duopoly, one has to point out the two companies' is being slowly nibbled away by the Chinese competition-- while Q1 2015 Samung-Apple sales share totals 42%, the total is actually down to 38% in Q1 2016. Apple particularly suffers from sales share decline, from 17.9% in Q1 2015 to 14.8% in Q1 2016.

On the other hand Samsung leads the market with 23.2% Q1 2016 share (down from 24.1% in Q1 2015) as it manages to appeal to both high-end and emerging ends of the market while facing competition from Apple on one side and low-cost local vendors on the other.

As for the rest of the top 5, as mentioned earlier China dominates-- Lenovo has in the top 5 no more, due to a challenging Q1 2016 with global sales dropping by -33% Y-o-Y. The company faces harsher competition in Greater China, where sales are down by -75% Y-o-Y.

Q1 2016 smartphone os

When it comes to operating systems, Android manages to win share from both iOS and Windows Phone to take over 84.1% of the market. Meanwhile Apple sees OS share declines (from 17.9% in Q1 2015 to 14.8%) and Windows Phone slips further into irrelevancy with just 0.7% Q1 2016 share.

Gartner also has some remarks on the recently announced return of the Nokia brand in smartphones and tablets. "In today’s market it takes much more than a well-known brand to sell devices. Making good hardware won’t be an issue for Nokia, but users need a compelling reason to remain loyal to the same brand," the analyst remarks. "Furthermore, that the smartphone market is slowing down makes it difficult for mobile phone vendors to reach previous levels of growth. New company HMD is entering the market at a less prosperous time, making it even more difficult for the vendor to do well in the short term."

Go Gartner Says WW Smartphone Sales Grew 3.9% in Q1 2016