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Global smartphone market grows for first time in two years

Range of market stimuli align to see global smartphone shipments growing 1% in the third quarter of 2019, bucking two years of declines

Research from Canalys has indicated signs of a pickup in mobile device sales in the third quarter of the year with Samsung and Huawei leading the pack, the latter buoyed by strong local performance.

The study revealed that what the analyst called a range of market stimuli aligned in the quarter to drive demand leading to global smartphone shipments growing 1% in the third quarter of 2019, bucking two years of declines.

As its strategy to sacrifice operating profit in pursuit of market share gained traction, Samsung topped the rankings, shipping 78.9 million devices, up 11% to deliver a 22.4% market share, while Huawei bounced back from a weak second quarter and was second with 66.8 million units, up 29%, to gain 19% of the market.

Canalys attributed Huawei’s growth to pent-up channel demand causing a surge in volume of shipments. In its home market alone, Huawei shipped 41.5 million smartphones to reach a record market share of 42%, an annual growth of 66%.

By contrast, and mainly by weak performance of the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max in the lead up to its September launch event, Apple shipped 43.5 million units, am annual decline of 7%, leading to 12.3% of the market.  Xiaomi and Oppo completed the top five suppliers, shipping 32.5 million and 32.0 million units respectively, to have markets of 9.2% and 9.1%.

Looking at the future prospects of the market leaders, Canalys research director, Rushabh Doshi identified 5G as the next battleground for Samsung.

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

“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.”

Doshi also observed that Apple will miss out on heavy operator investment in 5G marketing and promotions, though the wide expectation for Apple to launch a 5G iPhone in September 2020.

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