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Smartphones crack a comeback

Global smartphone shipments returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, driven by Apple’s record performance, says the IDC.

The worldwide smartphone market continued to improve in the last quarter of 2020, recording 4.3% year-on-year growth. Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 385.9-million devices during the quarter, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. 

While the full year 2020 declined 5.9% compared to 2019, the last quarter demonstrated impressive progress toward market recovery, and IDC believes the momentum heading into 2021 will remain strong.

“There are a lot of elements at play that are fuelling the smartphone market recovery — pent-up demand, continued supply push on 5G, aggressive promotions, and the popularity of low to mid-priced phones,” says Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Vendors also seem to be better prepared for the second lockdown, ensuring they have the right channel set up ready to fulfil orders and reach the end consumer. Lockdowns also have people spending less on areas like leisure, travel, and dining out — and smartphones are benefitting from this. In addition to all these factors, the fast recovery and resilience of the smartphone supply chain also has to be given some credit.”

In terms of vendors, there was a clear shift among the Top 5. Apple delivered strong performance in Q4 2020, returning to the number 1 position with 90.1 million devices shipped, driven by the success of the iPhone 12 series. This represents the highest shipment volume from a vendor in a single quarter and resulted in 23.4% market share and 22.2% year-over-year growth.

Samsung moved to number 2 with 73.9 million device shipments and 19.1% market share. With the continued success of the A series and growth in nearly every region, Samsung saw year-over-year growth of 6.2%.

Xiaomi finished the quarter in the third position with shipments of 43.3 million and 11.2% market share while OPPO was fourth with shipments of 33.8 million and 8.8% market share. Both companies successfully capitalised on declining Huawei shipments, growing 32.0% and 10.7% year over year respectively, by focusing on aggressive product portfolios and building partnerships. Huawei fell to the number 5 spot with shipments of 32.3 million and 8.4% market share. The company continues to suffer under the weight of U.S. sanctions and saw a dramatic year-over-year decline of 42.4%.

Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers says: “The recovery of both the smartphone market and its supply chain has been truly impressive and the year-end growth is testament to how far we’ve come. The majority of the world is either in some form of lockdown or still waiting to return to normal day-to-day life, yet smartphone sales are rebounding as though nothing ever happened.

“This illustrates the importance of smartphones in everyone’s life and provides a strong foundation for market demand. As the world progresses towards a post-pandemic environment, IDC believes demand will grow and the market recovery will accelerate.”

IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, January 27, 2021

Click here to read more market stats from the IDC.

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