Global Smartphone Shipments Are Down Amid Rising Ownership Costs

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Year-over-year premium smartphone shipments at the global scale are down by as much as 13-percent for Q1 2020. That's according to the latest analysis by Counterpoint Research. The firm indicates that the market may in fact be shifting for a host of reasons. But the primary driver of the downturn is a continuation of previous trends. That's trends driven by decreases in demand and supply as the result of market complications caused by ongoing health concerns globally.

The premium segment has remained relatively strong despite the downturn as well. Counterpoint Research indicates that it accounted for nearly 57% of total global smartphone revenue for the quarter.

5G devices were also an integral part of the segment, tracking alongside increasing availability. The firm says that as many as one-fifth of devices shipped for the first quarter of the year were 5G enabled. And the technology is finding its way into the lower end of the segment as well. In particular, Counterpoint Research says that as many as 39-percent of 5G devices sales were in the $400 to $600 price bracket. That's an increase of around 4-percent.

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China's 5G growth seems to be dominating the segment though. The region accounted for 63-percent of all 5G premium devices sold.

Which smartphones led at a global scale despite figures for shipments?

In terms of which companies are leading the charge despite smartphone shipments being down, just three accounted for 88-percent of the global premium market. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple is at the forefront of it all, with 57-percent of the premium bracket market share. Samsung and Huawei fell in behind, leading Android's premium charge, with little variation based on region.

In North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and the region encompassing the Middle East and Africa, Apple dominated. And, in each of those regions, Samsung placed second. China serves as the only nation where Apple came in second, behind Huawei. Samsung did not place in that region's top five companies.

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Four of the five top-selling phones for the quarter are produced by Apple. The fifth was the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G, capturing 3-percent of the share.

Samsung managed 19-percent of the premium smartphone segment globally in terms of shipments. Huawei managed 12. OPPO and Xiaomi both grew, meanwhile. OPPO grew 67-percent in shipments to take three percent of the premium market share. That was driven by the OPPO Reno 3 and Reno 3 Pro 5G series devices. Xiaomi captured two percent of the market driven by the Mi 10 5G and Mi Note 10 series. Its shipments figure grew 10-percent from last year.

Vivo, LG, Sony, ASUS, Google, OnePlus, and ZTE also managed to capture a top-five spot, depending on the region.

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So what other factors appear to be driving the downturn?

As noted above, the ongoing pandemic was a primary driver in pushing device shipments on a downward trend. But it wasn't the only shift in the market worth looking at. Users also appear to be focusing their purchasing power around less expensive devices. At the very least in the premium segment but it could also be carrying over to the more affordable markets for this particular technology, given the steady increase in cost over the years.

That could, at least in part, be driven by rising smartphone costs overall.

In terms of Q1 2020, both the $800 to $999 and $1000+ brackets saw a decrease in shipments of 41-percent. Shipments for premium smartphones at below $599 dropped by just 24-percent. All three of those year-over-year figures are accented by a 47-percent increase in smartphone sales in the $600 to $799 price bracket.

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