Smartphone shipments in China declined 21-percent in Q1 2018 compared to the same quarter in the year before, according to the latest data from Canalys. In short, the market analyst firm states the total number of smartphone shipments in China in the first quarter of this year totaled 91 million units. This is in comparison to the 114 million unit shipments noted for the first quarter of 2017. According to the firm, this represents the lowest quarterly shipment number in China since before Q4, 2013.
What's more, is this seems to be an industry-wide issue with Canalys noting eight out of the top ten vendors saw some form of decline over the year, with Gionee, Meizu and Samsung specifically mentioned as some of those feeling the impact. The data not only highlights how the market shrunk over the last year, but also the choice is shrinking as well with the 'big four' (Huawei, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi) now occupying more of the market than ever before. Therefore, at the market share level, things look more positive for those companies with Huawei seeing its share increasing from 18-percent in Q1 2017, to 24-percent in Q1 2018. Likewise, OPPO climbing from 17-percent to 19-percent, Vivo 15-percent to 17-percent, and Xiaomi 8-percent to 13-percent. However this might be of less reassurance to those companies as the market share does not adequately reflect the current state of the market due to the large level of decline of the "Others" sector effectively skewing the market share outlook. For example, Canalys states that the reality in Q1 2018, meant two of the big four (OPPO and Vivo) saw some of the biggest actual declines with both companies seeing shipments fall by roughly 10-percent each. One of the reasons Canalys suggests for the decline is "a sense of fatigue in the market" in part due to companies too closely emulating each other with their products and general approaches to market. Canalys did soften the decline news though by stating it expects a return to growth in the second quarter of this year – thanks to the number of high-profile smartphones being released.
Even Huawei, who once again maintains the lead in terms of shipments, only saw a "modest" level of growth over the year totaling 2-percent. The other company from the top ten who saw growth in the period was Xiaomi, and compared to the rest, its growth was far more significant, totaling an increase in shipments of 37-percent. In number terms, this saw Xiaomi climb to 12 million units shipped, behind Vivo on 15 million, OPPO on 18 million, and Huawei on 21 million.