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Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 403.5 million units during the fourth quarter of 2017 (4Q17), resulting in a 6.3 percent decline when compared to the 430.7 million units shipped in the final quarter of 2016, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
The data says that for the full year, the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1.472 billion units shipped, declining less than 1 percent from the 1.473 billion units shipped in 2016 and developed markets such as China and the United States both witnessed a decline during the quarter as consumers appeared to be in no rush to upgrade to the newest generation of higher-priced flagship devices.
"The latest flock of posh flagships may have had consumers hitting the pause button in the holiday quarter," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager, Mobile Phones at IDC.
Scarsella said that "With ultra-high-end flagships, all the rage in 2017, many of these new bezel-less wonders proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity among upgraders. Even though we have seen new full-screen displays, advanced biometrics, and improved artificial intelligence, the new and higher price points could be outweighing the benefits of having the latest and greatest device in hand."
"In the presence of ultra-high-end flagships, the still high-priced flagships from the previous generation seemed far more palatable to consumers in 2017," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.
Ubrani said that "Many high-profile companies offered their widest product portfolio ever in hopes of capturing a greater audience. Meanwhile, brands outside the top 5 struggled to maintain momentum as value brands such as Honor, Vivo, Xiaomi, and OPPO offered incredible competition at the low end, and brands like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei maintained their stronghold on the high end."
Meanwhile the report highlighted that Apple experienced a slight downturn from the previous holiday quarter as iPhone volumes reached 77.3 million units, a year-over-year decline of 1.3 percent, however volumes were still enough to push Apple past Samsung and back into first place in the smartphone market, largely because of iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X, Samsung remained the overall leader in the worldwide smartphone market for 2017 despite losing out to Apple in the fourth quarter. The Korean giant shipped 74.1 million units in 4Q17, down 4.4 percent compared to the 77.5 million units from last year.
Huawei continues to hold the number three position despite intensified competition from growing Chinese players such as OPPO and Vivo. Huawei shipped 41.0 million units, down 9.7 percent from the 45.4 million shipped in the fourth quarter of 2016, while Xiaomi managed to double its share to 7 percent from 3.3 percent during the holiday quarter last year and OPPO dropped one place to the 5th position as the company shipped 27.4 million smartphones while managing to maintain 12 percent growth for the full year, amounting to 111.8 million smartphones.
Like Xiaomi, OPPO has also managed to move beyond the domestic Chinese market and gain a foothold in other Asian countries like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In Indonesia, it launched the new F5 series in 4Q17 and also announced its partnership with AOV, a MOBA game.