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Trump’s tough talk may crush Asian vendors’ US plans

01 Feb 2017

The worldwide smartphone market is in a good place. Or perhaps, was.

Quarterly shipments passed 400 million units for the first time in the last quarter of 2016, with the top five vendors (in order) being Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.

Apple was able to grow its volumes by 5 percent, equating to around 78 million iPhones shipped in the quarter to overtake Samsung – the only vendor in the top five to see a shipment decline after shipping around 77 million units. I think we all know why that is – who wants an exploding phone?

“Samsung’s problems with the Note7 contributed to its worldwide market share falling below 20% in Q4, its lowest point since Q2 2011,” says Ben Stanton, Canalys research analyst. “This played into the hands of Apple, which saw seasonal shipments of the iPhone 7 reach 78 million units, taking it into first place, a position it has not held since Q4 2014 and the launch of the iPhone 6.”

Third-placed Huawei grew 39% to reach 45 million units, exceeding a 10% market share for the first time this quarter. Oppo and Vivo rounded out the top five, as BBK Electronics’ top brands maintained their pressure on the leading trio. Oppo shipped 29 million units, up 70%, while Vivo grew 96% to ship 22 million units.

Canalys research analyst, Mo Jia says smartphone shipments in China grew by over 14 percent year-on-year, easily remaining the largest market by accounting for over 30 percent of the worldwide market in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are increasingly making their presence felt internationally, with their combined global market share reaching 24%, up from 16% in the same quarter a year ago,” says Mo Jia.

“But success in the US continues to evade these leading Chinese players. President Trump’s tough talk on trade with China, including the threat of harsh tariffs, paints a bleak picture for Chinese vendors looking to the US for growth.”

This also raises stark questions about the future of Lenovo and ZTE, which have seen their share of the US market grow to around 10 percent.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is that it’s clear that Trump’s intended restrictions on China trade will affect not only the smartphone market and not only China, but the entire Asian region and all trading tech industries within that area. We can only sit and wait to see the outcome.

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