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According to a new report by research firm Counterpoint, the overall global smartphone market declined 4 percent from 1,558.8 million unit shipments in 2017 to 1,498.3 million units.
The fourth quarter smartphone shipments for 2018 recorded a decline of 7 percent, marking it the fifth consecutive quarter of smartphone decline.
As per the report Samsung had a 19 percent share, followed by Apple and Huawei, both at 14 percent, globally while Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi garnered 8 percent market share.
Samsung and Apple saw a tough quarter and tough 2018 as demand for their flagship phones have waned due to competition from affordable premium and more cutting-edge phones from Chinese brands such as Huawei and OnePlus, Counterpoint said.
"This is the first time that the global smartphone market has witnessed decline for a whole year. The decline in smartphone shipments can be attributed to lengthening replacement cycles in developed markets like US, China, and Western Europe," Tarun Pathak Associate Director at Counterpoint Research said.
"Smartphone OEMs in 2019 are looking to launch devices with innovative designs and specifications such as 5G, foldable displays, punch-hole cameras, full-screen in-display fingerprint scanners to lure consumers to upgrade. With Chinese OEMs Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi (HOVX) improving their quality and taking the lead at launching these new features, it has become tough for both global brands and local brands alike to sustain market share," Pathak said.
"The collective smartphone shipment growth of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, and others was not enough to offset the decline in China, which was responsible for almost one-third of global smartphone shipments in 2018," said Research Analyst Shobhit Srivastava.
Xiaomi reached a record fourth position for the full year after two years of setbacks thanks to immense growth in India.
BBK Group (which owns OPPO, Realme, Vivo and OnePlus brands) is collectively the world's third largest manufacturer, even bigger than Huawei in terms of volume," said the report.
Huawei continued to have its sights on Apple and should surpass Apple as the second largest brand globally in 2019 if it does not face any sanctions from the US the way ZTE was cut-off from American suppliers, noted the report.