According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.4 million units during the fourth quarter of 2018 (4Q18), down 4.9 per cent year over year and the fifth consecutive quarter of decline.
The challenging holiday quarter closes out the worst year ever for smartphone shipments with global smartphone volumes declining 4.1 per cent in 2018 with a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year. With challenging market conditions continuing into the first quarter of 2019, the likelihood of a declining market this year becomes more of a reality.
Programme vice president, IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, Ryan Reith said, “Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now. Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.
“We believe several factors are at play here, including lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points.”
Despite all the challenges the smartphone market is facing, the largest focal point remains the China market as recovery continues to get pushed further forward.
China which accounts for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s smartphone consumption, had an even worse 2018, than the previous year with volumes down just over 10 per cent.
High inventory continues to be a challenge across the market as is consumer spending on devices, which has been down overall. At the same time the top four brands, all of which are Chinese – Huawei, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi – grew their share of the China market to roughly 78 per cent up from 66 per cent in 2017.