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Worldwide smartphone market declines in Q3, but not as much as expected - IDC
Fri, 30th Oct 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The global smartphone market has performed ‘better than expected' in Q3 2020, according to IDC, whose recent report shows shipments declining just 1.3% year-on-year.

353.6 million smartphones were shipped this quarter, and despite the dip from last year, this figure represents a much better picture than what was previously projected by IDC — a 9% year-on-year decline. This better-than-expected showing is primarily attributed to the re-opening of economies as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.

Several key emerging markets were at the forefront of these hopeful figures. India, which is the second-largest market globally, witnessed substantial volumes during the quarter despite further concerns around the pandemic. Other emerging markets, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, which rank fourth, fifth, and sixth in the world, also experienced strong growth.

“Although there was an element of pent-up demand that fueled market growth, it was mainly the array of heavy promotions and discounts that accelerated growth in these markets,” says IDC Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers research director Nabila Popal.

“In India, distance learning has actually boosted the demand for low-end smartphones as they are a more affordable option compared to tablets. The increased low-end demand only further increases competition and adds pressure to the vendors' bottom line.

Meanwhile, more developed markets, including China, Western Europe and North America, witnessed the largest declines in Q3 2020. A portion of this can be attributed to Apple's month-long delay of the iPhone 12 launch, as these regions constitute Apple's largest markets for the iPhone.

But, says IDC Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers program vice president Ryan Reith, the slew of 5G promotions across these regions may affect these regions' sales, as a full array of products quickly becomes available to consumers at all price points.

“While some of the topline numbers may not seem pretty, we are seeing a lot of improvement in the smartphone market both in terms of supply chains and consumer demand,” says Reith.

“In the large developed markets, it is very clear that 5G will be positioned to most consumers as their next phone regardless of which brand or price point they are focused on.

“Marketing has ramped up significantly. Products are widely available. Promotions are happening. And it's clear that the top sales initiative in these markets is to push 5G.

“Having said this, we still believe consumer demand for 5G is minimal at best, which only adds to the price pressure on channels and OEMs.

Smartphone market share rankings
  1. Samsung reclaimed the top position in 3Q20 with a market share of 22.7% after shipping 80.4 million smartphones, up 2.9% year over year. 
  2. Huawei lost the top spot and settled into the second position in 3Q20 with 51.9 million smartphones shipped and 14.7% share. But the vendor, continuing its struggle against US sanctions and hits on its reputation, suffered a large drop — down 22% year over year — with continued declines in international markets and a decline of more than 15% in China. 
  3. Xiaomi shipped 46.5 million devices to grab the number 3 position globally, beating Apple for the first time with 13.1% share and 42.0% growth. 
  4. Apple shipped 41.6 million iPhones in 3Q20, down 10.6% year over year, which placed the company in fourth for the first time with 11.8% share. This drop was expected and is mainly due to the delay in the launch of the new iPhone 12 series, which is usually in the third quarter. 
  5. vivo returned to the Top 5 this quarter with 31.5 million units shipped for 4.2% year-over-year growth and 8.9% market share.