With 17.9 per cent market share in Q4 (October - December), Cupertino-based tech company Apple has managed to secure the No. 1 global smartphone vendor position, while global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 432 million units registering a seven per cent increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to report by Gartner.
In 2016, overall smartphone sales to end users totaled nearly 1.5 billion units, an increase of 5 per cent from 2015.
"The last time Apple was in the leading position was in the fourth quarter of 2014, when its sales were driven by its first ever large-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus," said said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. Adding that "This time it achieved it thanks to strong sales of its flagship phones - the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; it also benefited from the weakened demand for Samsung's smartphones in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, and in some mature markets in Asia such as Australia and South Korea."
According to Gartner, it has taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the No 1 global smartphone vendor ranking, but the positions of the two leaders have never been so close, with a difference of only 256,000 units.
"This is the second consecutive quarter in which Samsung has delivered falling quarterly smartphone sales," Gupta said.
"Samsung's smartphone sales declined 8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 per cent points year on year," report noted.
Report says, Samsung also faced growing competition in the midtier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all grew their sales each quarter.
Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3 per cent of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 7.3 percentage points year on year. Offering high-performance, front-facing cameras and fast charging smartphones let Oppo to maintain the No. 1 positon in China during the fourth quarter of 2016, the report says.