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IDC: Chinese smartphone makers inching up in shipments

updated 10:07 pm EDT, Tue July 29, 2014

Apple shows significant year-over-year growth while Samsung drops

On the release of its first set of statistics following last month's report of a two percent drop in Mac sales (that turned out to be a 16 percent gain), IDC has made the term "shipments" more prominent in its latest report on smartphone share worldwide. Although its reports have always been based on shipment data rather than on sales to end-users, the company emphasized the term in its latest set of numbers, and noted that both Apple and Samsung lost share to smaller Chinese smartphone makers.

The new data is based on shipments and, in Apple's case, sell-through numbers. Although shipment data may not correlate to real-world sales to end-users, it can be useful for determining trends. In the case of the current numbers, the two top manufacturers -- Samsung with 74.3 million phones shipped, compared to Apple with 35.1 million units shipped -- both saw small drops in "marketshare," while China-based Huawei, Lenovo and mostly China-based "others" all saw impressive gains in shipments.

Samsung, notably, posted the only drop in shipments from the year-ago quarter, with volume falling from 77.3 million units in 2013's second quarter for an overall drop in growth of 3.9 percent. Apple was able to increase shipments from 31.2 million units a year ago to its reported 35.1 million for this year's June quarter, but still dropped just over a full percentage point in share. Samsung's far larger share of the market is attributed to the fact that it also carries "feature phones," but that segment -- which has been a solid base for the company for years in developing markets -- is starting to fade as even lower-end markets make the transition to smartphones.

Huawei made the biggest leap year-over-year, doubling shipments from 10.4 million phones a year ago to 20.3 million this quarter, gaining 2.6 percent of the market in the process. Lenovo, just behind Huawei in fourth place, grew shipments 38.7 percent from 11.4 million units to 15.8 million, improving its share by 0.7 percent.

Among the top five manufacturers, LG rounded out the bottom with nearly 20 percent growth, going from 12.1 million units to 14.5 million in Q2 2014. Combined smaller manufacturers, counted as "others," cumulatively outperformed the top five combined, growing shipments to 135.3 million units collectively -- up from 97.5 million a year ago. Overall, the market saw a 23 percent increase in unit shipments from all manufacturers, which totaled 295.3 million units.

IDC says that emerging markets, particularly those supported by local vendors such as in China, continue to drive smartphone growth overall. The analytics firm does mention that Apple had reported strong growth in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which is "a good sign that it is building its footprint in emerging markets." The numbers from the smartphone analysis mirror the trend in tablets from IDC's earlier report, which showed both Apple and Samsung losing share to smaller competitors.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    Do they ever mention how those companies got such growth in volume? Channel stuffing? BOGO offers? Deep discounts? All I know is if those companies are operating on razor-thin margins, it really doesn't matter how many smartphones they move to increase market share because it probably isn't sustainable.

  1. nouser

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-29-12

    So as I read this IDC piece, all the vendors, except for Apple, are reporting units shipped to warehouses or distributors, carriers, etc., while Apple is instead reporting units actually "SOLD" to customers.

    How can you draw valid market share conclusions from this? How do we know that there are not crates of unsold devices sitting on pallets in warehouses being counted as market share?

    What does Android vs. IOS internet use metrics tells us about market share? What does the revenue generation from Android and IOS developers tell us? This report generates more question than it answers.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I agree with the commenters that shipment numbers are really misleading when it comes to "marketshare," but they are not entirely without merit. Sustained shipment numbers over time can be indicative of sales, but more importantly, shipments represent income to companies, even if they're channel-stuffing. Sales to resellers, to the manufacturer, count as sales -- but I think iPhonerulez makes a very good point that "sales" do not equal "profit" necessarily.

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