Gartner have released sales global smartphone statistics and they show that Samsung has regained the lead after losing it to Apple in the fourth quarter 2014. By the numbers, Samsung sold 81.1 million smartphones in the first quarter 2015, compared with 60.1 million Apple iPhones. This gives Samsung market share of 24.2%, which is down from 30.4% this time last year. Apple's market share rose from 15.3% to 17.9% helped by very strong sales in China, where Apple overtook Xiaomi for the first time. It is usual for Samsung and Apple to trade places when it comes to global smartphone sales; Apple releases its new device towards the end of the year and this boosts sales figures, whereas Samsung's flagship handsets are released earlier in the year and these boost sales here, but the new Galaxy S6 sales figures are not included in this information as it was released in Q2. However, as with all headline statistics, it's the information and numbers behind the headline that makes things more interesting.
First, let's take a look at the next three manufacturers rounding up the top five, where we have Lenovo (including Motorola) at 5.9%, Huawei at 4.8% and LG at 4.0%. The table at the bottom of the article also shows the market shares of the individual operating systems and here, we see Apple iOS has advanced whereas Android, Windows and BlackBerry showed declines. Android remains the most popular mobile operating system in the world but despite losing out in sales numbers, iOS is showing a strong gain. These statistics are against worldwide smartphone sales of 336 million, up more than 19% compared with this time last year and let by the emerging smartphone markets (but not China). Indeed, the fastest growing regions were the Asia / Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and finally North Africa. The 19% sales growth can be broken down: the Emerging Markets scored 40% growth in smartphone sales.
One of the influences in the statistics is how in the emerging markets, local or domestic device manufacturers gain a solid, strong support. According to Gartner, local and Chinese manufacturers showed an average growth of 73% over the period in question. This saw their combined market share rise from 38% to 47%. Samsung sold fewer boxes this year compared with last year and the reasons include the competition with Apple at the high end and with local manufacturers at the lower end of the scale.
Elsewhere, I would draw attention to the Windows Phone sales, which remained flat during the period. Gartner, long term fans of Microsoft's mobile platform, had this to say about Windows Phone: "The performance of Windows Phone remained flat, mainly due to a weak ecosystem and a less desirable mobile brand, together with a strong and established competitive smartphone market. The upcoming Windows 10 will create a consistent user experience across all devices, but it remains to be seen whether developers will follow."