While the smartphone market was essentially flat in Q1 2016, there was a change in the Chinese vendors in the top five, according to research firm IDC.
While the top three places remained unchanged – Samsung, Apple and Huawei – Oppo and Vivo took fourth and fifth places, displacing Lenovo and Xiaomi.
“These new vendors would be well-advised not to rest on their laurels though, as this dynamic smartphone landscape has shown to even cult brands like Xiaomi that customer loyalty is difficult to consistently maintain,” Melissa Chau, senior research manager, said.
Oppo has been in the smartphone game since 2011, and is primarily focused on China, although since 2012 it has been shipping to other markets in Asia, Middle East and Africa.
The company’s efforts are centred on “fostering channel partnerships, supplemented with large marketing budgets and entertainment sponsorships to increase visibility”, IDC said.
Vivo has also offered smartphones since 2011, but is focused more on its home market (less than 10 per cent of 2015 volume was outside China).
It is positioned as “relatively premium”, and “slightly differentiated by its focus on audio”, IDC said.
Of the more familiar brands, Huawei saw continued growth, as it looked to compete both in premium devices and, through its Honor brand, at the entry level.
“In China, Huawei is already recognised as a premium brand, but it is now going toe-to-toe on build quality with premium devices like the Nexus 6P that are available worldwide. While Huawei is furthest along in terms of international recognition, selling equally impressive volumes outside of China remains a challenge for many of these brands, whether it is Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo, or Vivo,” Anthony Scarsella, research manager at IDC, said.
Samsung retained top spot despite a slight (0.6 per cent) decline in shipments year-on-year. IDC said that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge sold “vigorously” in March, aided by operator promotions, while the more affordable J-series is picking up buyers in emerging markets.
Second-placed Apple saw its first drop in iPhone models, as current owners opted not to upgrade to iPhone 6s at the same rate as for last year’s iteration. The company’s lower-cost iPhone SE is now available.