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Apple back to No1 in smartphones (but only over holidays)

A strong holiday season surge in sales for the new iPhone 11 range saw Apple briefly return to the top of the global smartphone pile, but Samsung and Huawei held onto leadership for the year.

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Apple captured the top position in global smartphone sales in the 4th quarter of 2019, thanks to strong performance during the holiday season. However, Samsung held onto the top spot for the full year 2019. Huawei overtook Apple for the number 2 overall position for 2019 – despite being banned from working with American companies and seeing a drop in fourth-quarter shipments.

The overall decline was partly due to weak shipment growth in China, where consumers are still waiting for cheaper 5G handsets to hit the market alongside increased network coverage and 5G speeds. Large inventories from 3Q19 for Huawei as well as competitive pressure on other domestic players also contributed to a sluggish quarter in China.

“Huawei’s performance continued to be strong in China, but while it has been diligently building up a presence as a top tier smartphone player in Western Europe, that’s where shipments saw the biggest hit,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Things will continue to look challenging for Huawei given that the trade war is still not yet resolved while new uncertainty raised around the Wuhan coronavirus could potentially have adverse effects on not just Huawei, but all players reliant on the China smartphone supply chain.”

Apple captured the top position globally in 4Q19, boosted by a strong performance in the holiday quarter, similar to 2018. Meanwhile, Samsung managed to maintain the top spot for the full year 2019. Despite Huawei’s ongoing challenges outside of China and a notable drop in 4Q19 shipments, it did manage to overtake Apple for the number 2 position overall in 2019.

“The full-year decline in 2019 represents the second consecutive year of falling shipments despite the launch of 5G devices and new innovative handsets such as foldables,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Although the overall market dropped once again in 2019, the fourth quarter proved successful for some of the top players such as Apple, Xiaomi, and OPPO, largely due to new models but also shifting focus away from China. Both Xiaomi and OPPO performed well in India and are starting to gain traction in Western Europe in a similar fashion to Huawei a few years ago. Apple performed well domestically as its market share broke fifty percent in the fourth quarter. Looking forward, 5G handsets – and to be more precise, affordable 5G handsets – will need to be the big catalyst in 2020 to avoid three consecutive years of decline.”

Smartphone Company Highlights

Apple shipped 73.8 million iPhones in 4Q19 to grab the top position with year-over-year growth of 7.9%. The iPhone 11 series did well particularly in developed regions like the U.S. and Europe while iPhone XR remained popular globally. According to Apple, the iPhone 11 was the top-selling model every week during December and the three new models were the top three models throughout the quarter. The strong demand for the 11, combined with healthy trade-in promotions and financing plans, made the new device more accessible to a wider variety of consumers than ever before. Looking forward, rumours of a “SE” follow-up device could have Apple earning even more share in emerging markets if the price hits a sweet spot with budget-minded buyers.

Samsung has tended to peak in the third quarter, so being overtaken by Apple in the fourth quarter was not unexpected. The A series continued to perform well although Samsung’s shipment trend slowed with fewer launches and a slowdown in domestic 5G devices, which will take time to pick up internationally. The arrival of the latest Galaxy S series along with a new foldable next month should give the Korean giant a late 1Q20 push. Moreover, IDC expects the more affordable A series to also see some 5G versions at a much lower price point compared to both the S and Note series.

Huawei having filled inventories in the third quarter delivered the expected fourth-quarter decline. The company is still facing heavy inventories to clear in China and the pricing of its Mate 30 series has also been a limiting factor. Nevertheless, domestic channel players are still willing to work with Huawei as it could provide a better brand value locally than its key competitors. As a result, Huawei was still able to keep pushing new stock to channels, helped by the financing support incentives to the channel players. Outside of China, however, Huawei continued to face challenges. Although Huawei launched the Mate 30 series in some international markets, such as Malaysia and Singapore, the lack of Google Mobile Services still impacted its performance.

Xiaomi’s largest market continued to beIndia for the second quarter in a row as it has shifted some focus away from China. The online shopping festival during the Diwali period helped to support Xiaomi’s 4Q19 performance in India. Its Redmi 8/Note 8 series maintained its traction after the shopping festival, which has also helped to support overall shipments. Nevertheless, Xiaomi is facing several challenges, including channel management issues and strong competition from Realme, not just in India but Indonesia as well. Domestically, Xiaomi promoted its CC9 Pro model to showcase the 108MP camera. However, the relatively lower margin and the lack of channel support did not help it gain share against Huawei.

OPPO also slowly shifted focus away from China, with less than 50% of its global volumes being shipped domestically for the first time. It did use its A series to support its 4Q19 performance locally, launched the A11 model with a Quad camera as the key selling point in the low-end segment, and joined the 5G competition in China with the Reno 3 series. However, overall performance was impacted by Huawei and the overall market slowdown. In India, OPPO reinforced its high-end image with heavy promotions around the Reno series, helping OPPO strengthen its position in the US$400-$600 segment where OnePlus has a strong market position in India. In Indonesia, OPPO plans to expand its production facilities. Unlike the Indian market, demand for Reno series was sluggish in Indonesia as OPPO’s brand is more commonly associated with the mid-range segment.

Top 5 Smartphone Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q4 2019 (shipments in millions)

Vendor2019Q4
Shipment
Volumes
2019Q4
Market
Share
2018Q4
Shipment
Volumes
2018Q4
Market
Share
Year-Over-Year
Change
Apple73.820.0%68.418.3%7.9%
Samsung69.418.8%70.318.8%-1.2%
Huawei56.215.2%60.516.2%-7.1%
Xiaomi32.88.9%25.06.7%31.1%
OPPO30.68.3%29.37.9%4.2%
Others106.028.7%119.532.0%-11.3%
Total368.8100.0%373.1100.0%-1.1%

Source: IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Q4 2019, January 30, 2020

Notes:

  • Data are preliminary and subject to change.
  • Company shipments are branded device shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.
  • The “Company” represents the current parent company (or holding company) for all brands owned and operated as a subsidiary.
  • Figures represent new shipments only and exclude refurbished units.

In addition to the table above, a graphic illustrating the worldwide market share of the top 5 smartphone companies over the previous five quarters is available by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

Top 5 Smartphone Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, 2019 (shipments in millions)

Vendor2019
Shipment
Volumes
2019 Market
Share
2018
Shipment
Volumes
2018 Market
Share
Year-Over-Year
Change
Samsung295.721.6%292.220.8%1.2%
Huawei240.617.6%206.014.7%16.8%
Apple191.013.9%208.814.9%-8.5%
Xiaomi125.69.2%119.18.5%5.5%
OPPO114.38.3%113.38.1%0.9%
Others403.629.4%463.233.0%-12.9%
Total1371.0100.0%1402.6100.0%-2.3%

Source: IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Q4 2019, January 30, 2020

Notes:

  • Data are preliminary and subject to change.
  • Company shipments are branded device shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.
  • The “Company” represents the current parent company (or holding company) for all brands owned and operated as a subsidiary.
  • Figures represent new shipments only and exclude refurbished units.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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