Friday, 01 November 2019 10:22

Samsung leads the way as global smartphone market stirs again in Q3

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Samsung leads the way as global smartphone market stirs again in Q3 Pixabay

After two years of declines, global smartphone shipments increased in the third quarter of 2019, growing by 1%, as Samsung shipped 78.9 million units, an increase of 11% year-on-year which showed that its strategy of giving up operating profit for market share had worked.

The technology research firm Canalys said Huawei (66.8 million units, up 29%), Apple (43.5 million units, down 7%), Xiaomi (32.5 million units, 3%) and OPPO (32.0 million units, up 6%) made up the top five.

Apple's bad showing was caused by weak performances of its XR, XS and XS Max in the lead-up to its September launch event; the number was higher as this was the first time Apple launched three iPhones in September.

Canalys claimed that Samsung's Galaxy A series had now displaced the old Galaxy J family, packing much better price-to-spec.

"And at the high-end, it increased the number of models, a trend which started with Galaxy S10 in February, and continues with the new Galaxy Note10," the company noted.

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"The Note10 boasts two screen sizes for the first time, as well as separate 5G variants, which adds cost and complexity to Samsung, and has impacted profitability at the high-end. However, it has culminated in greater volume, with the Galaxy Note10 family out-shipping last year’s Note9 by more than 5%."

Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi said 5G was the next battleground for the South Korean conglomerate.

“It is one of very few smartphone vendors to design its own chipsets and modems. It is not, therefore, restricted to the innovation cycle of a third-party component supplier like Qualcomm," he pointed out.

"If Samsung moves faster than Qualcomm, it can win the race to mid-range smartphones with 5G. Its recent announcement of the Galaxy A90 5G and the upcoming Exynos 980 chipset highlights its strategic priorities.”

Despite the US efforts to stymie its sales by placing the vendor on its Entity List, Huawei showed resilience in growing by what Canalys called "a stunning uplift". Growth was seen not only in China, but also in overseas markets where volume increased sequentially from 21.5 million in Q2 to 25.3 million in Q3, as procurement, which had been paused in Q2, resumed.

“Huawei is not out of the woods yet,” said Canalys senior analyst, Ben Stanton. “Its shipments overseas in Q3 were focused on pre-Entity List models, with P30 Lite its best shipper, at close to three million units.

"But its post-Entity List models, like Mate 30, bring uncertainty because there is resistance from channels in critical overseas markets, like Europe, to support Huawei devices without Google Mobile Services. Huawei does have the potential to rapidly bring GMS to its devices if the political situation changes, but time is not on its side.

"It is nearing the launch timeframe for new Y-series and P-series devices in early 2020. These families are major volume drivers for Huawei, and accounted for 64% of its volume in the first half of this year. It will be a major challenge to retain its overseas volume if the Entity List saga is not resolved in the coming months.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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