China’s smartphone market is slowing after years of double-digit growth, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the 2015 results of the top five selling brands in the mainland, which saw shipments jump 41 per cent last year.
Smartphone shipments in the country fell 4 per cent in Q4 and were up just 3.3 per cent last year to 438 million units, according to Strategy Analytics. That’s down from 20 per cent growth in 2014.
Yet, four of the top five vendors reported at least 49 per cent growth in China last year. Number three Apple led the pack with a 59 per cent increase in shipments, followed by number four Vivo (52 per cent), Huawei (50 per cent) and Oppo (49 per cent). Their combined shipments expanded by 72.5 million units.
Even the market leader, once fast-rising Xiaomi, reported a 17 per cent jump in shipments last year.
The top five players boosted their market share to 57 per cent from 49 per cent the previous year.
It was the vendors outside the top five that felt the pain as shipments declined 24 per cent in 2015, with a drop of 58.3 million units.
The global picture was very different, where the top five vendors grew just 9 per cent, while the rest of the market was up 17 per cent, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung and Lenovo both faced drops in shipments, Huawei’s shipments grew 45 per cent, Apple’s expanded 20 per cent and Xiaomi’s were up 18 per cent.
The global smartphone market increased by 12 per cent annually to hit 1.4 billion units last year, but the top five vendors lost market share last year, as the “others” expanded their share by more than 2 percentage points to 44.2 per cent.
The vendor space in China has consolidated rapidly as prices have plummeted, with low-end makers, focused on the CNY300-500 ($45-$76) segment, feeling the most pressure.
A mandated reduction in operator subsidies and an increased push of online sales means those with the biggest marketing budgets will continue to flourish. And with a strong preference for big-name brands as incomes rise, expect the top five to consolidate their positions at the top this year in China.
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.