Apple gobbled up Huawei and Samsung in Q4 2019

Chris Burns - Jan 30, 2020, 10:27am CST
Apple gobbled up Huawei and Samsung in Q4 2019

Global smartphone vendor shipments and marketshare in the fourth quarter of 2019 showed Apple stepping up in a big way. There’s been a three-way battle going on in the global smartphone market for several years – after Apple and Samsung dominated the market for over half a decade, Huawei came up and put the battle back in the hearts of the brands. For several quarters, it’d been Samsung out ahead by millions of units shipped and a couple percentage points of the total market’s shipments – but now Apple’s suddenly back on top.

The fourth quarter of the year is generally a high point for Apple. They’ve released their new phones in September/October for a number of years. These three months represent the period in which it makes the most sense for Apple to ship the most phones.* That didn’t necessarily mean they beat their competitors in the past.

In Q4 of 2018, per the Strategy Analytics report, Apple had 17.5% of the market (re: global smartphone shipments). They ended up accounting for 14.4% of the market through the entire year of 2018 – basically tying the percentage for Huawei for the year (also 14.4%). Again looking at Strategy Analytic’s reported shipment numbers, Huawei’s Q4 for 2018 took 3rd place at 16.1% of the market, while Samsung won the 3-month period with 18.4% of all global smartphone shipments.

The “gobbling” mentioned in the title refers to the difference between Q3 2019 and Q4 2019 for smartphone shipments. In 2019, Samsung went from 21.3% to 18.4%, Huawei went from 18.2% to 15%, and Apple went from 12.4% to 18.9%!

If we look at the rest of the market going from Q3 to Q4 in 2019, we see Xiaomi going from 8.8% to (not changing) 8.8%, and OPPO going from 8% to 8.1%. The rest of the market (Other) went from 31.1% to 30.8%. So while OPPO took .1% of the “Other”, the other .2% went to Apple – the rest came from Samsung and Huawei.

Apple took 6.3% away from Samsung and Huawei from Q3 to Q4. Apple took 2.9% away from Samsung, and a 3.2% away from Huawei – with around .2% left for error. *NOTE: This is the quarter in which Apple released the first iPhone “PRO” (that’s the iPhone 11 Pro).

When we look at the bigger picture, as Strategy Analytics shows in total year’s global smartphone shipments from these three top brands, Apple remains in 3rd place. For the full year, 2019, Apple had 14% of the global smartphone market for unit shipments, Huawei had 17%, and Samsung had 20.9%.

Compared to the entirety of the year 2018, we see that it’s actually Huawei that’s ramping up unit shipments the most. In 2018, Huawei shipped 205.8 million smartphones, where in 2019, Huawei shipped 240.5 million smartphones (globally). Samsung went from 291.3 to 295.1, and Apple went from 206.3 to 197.4 (million units shipped, globally, 2018 and 2019 respectively).

At this point it’s important to point out that another very important angle on all of this is the amount of profit-per-device a company makes. That’s where things get truly bonkers in this realm.

ALSO, for the full year: Xiaomi’s full year for 2018 showed they commanded 8.3% of the market for smartphone shipments, then in 2019 they went up to 8.8%. OPPO had 8.1% in 2018 – and 8.1% again in 2019. The biggest change for the full year between 2018 and 2019 was the “Other” category which accounted for 34.4% of the market in 2018, then 31.1% in 2019.


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