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Apple slips behind Samsung after brief lead as shipments fall

South Korean smartphone maker Samsung retained the top spot globally with a market share of 20.8%

Apple slips behind Samsung after brief lead as shipments fall
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Global shipments of Apple smartphones declined close to 10% from a year ago in the January-to-March quarter despite a broader rebound in the industry.

Shipments of iPhones dipped to 50.1 million from 55.4 million a year ago, preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) showed.

Apple has been facing increasingly stiff competition in key market China, where sales had declined 13% in the quarter to December from a year ago as rivals Xiaomi, and Huawei expanded their market share. The iPhone maker will next report its earnings, including its sales figures in China, in the first week of May.

Samsung regained the top spot globally with a market share of 20.8%, down from the 22.5% that it had in the year-ago period, IDC data showed. Samsung had claimed the top spot in global smartphone sales for about 12 years until the end of last year when Apple overtook the South Korean smartphone maker.

Apple had a 17.3% market share in the first quarter, down from 20.7% in the year-ago quarter and 24.7% in the October-to-December quarter.

In the first quarter, Chinese phonemaker Transsion led with an 85% surge in global smartphone shipments, followed by Xiaomi with a 33.8% increase.

Globally, smartphone shipments rose by 7.8% year-on-year to 289.4 million units in the first quarter of the year.

This marks the third consecutive quarter of growth in smartphone shipments, “a strong indicator that a recovery is well underway,” IDC said.

“As expected, smartphone recovery continues to move forward with market optimism slowly building among the top brands,” said Ryan Reith, group vice-president at IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

“While Apple managed to capture the top spot at the end of 2023, Samsung successfully reasserted itself as the leading smartphone provider in the first quarter. While IDC expects these two companies to maintain their hold on the high end of the market, the resurgence of Huawei in China, as well as notable gains from Xiaomi, Transsion, OPPO/OnePlus, and vivo will likely have both OEMs looking for areas to expand and diversify,” Reith added.

“The smartphone market is emerging from the turbulence of the last two years both stronger and changed,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team. “Firstly, we continue to see growth in value and average selling prices as consumers opt for more expensive devices knowing they will hold onto their devices longer. Secondly, there is a shift in power among the Top 5 companies, which will likely continue as market players adjust their strategies in a post-recovery world.”

“Xiaomi is coming back strong from the large declines seen in the past two years and Transsion is becoming a stable presence in the Top 5 with aggressive growth in global markets. In contrast, while the Top 2 players both saw negative growth in the first quarter, it seems Samsung is in a stronger position overall than they were in recent quarters,” Popal added.

Apple’s iPhones had surpassed Samsung devices to become the best-selling smartphone devices last year, ending the South Korean firm’s 13-year reign at the top.

Apple had reported 234.6 million shipments with a one-fifth market share overall, while Samsung reported 226.6 million shipments with a share of 19.4%.

Apple had doubled the production of its iPhones in India last fiscal year as it pushed to diversify the production of its devices away from China, Bloomberg reported.

The iPhone maker assembled $14 billion worth of its flagship smartphone in the country and today makes about 1 in 7 of its devices in India, the report said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker is in advanced talks with Murugappa Group and Tata group’s Titan Co. to assemble and make sub-components for iPhone camera modules, The Economic Times reported on Tuesday, citing people aware of the matter.

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