Apple Passes Samsung to Take Smartphone Market Lead

By Tom Allen
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Worldwide smartphone sales reached 367.5 million units in Q4’14, rising almost 30% YoY. Gartner’s data shows that Apple displaced Samsung as the market leader – a spot that the Korean company has held since 2011! In 2014 overall, smartphone sales exceeded 1.2 billion units, up 28.4% YoY and representing 66% of global mobile phone sales.

Samsung’s market share declined almost 10 percentage points in Q4’14. The company’s share has been falling since its peak in Q3’13. Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said that Samsung should use a “solid ecosystem” of apps, content and proprietary services to secure long-term loyalty and differentiation in the premium end.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2014 (000s)
Vendor 2014 Units 2013 Units 2014 Market Share 2013 Market Share
Samsung 307,597 299,795 24.7% 30.9%
Apple 191,426 150,786 15.4% 15.5%
Lenovo 81,416 57,424 6.5% 5.9%
Huawei 68,018 46,609 5.5% 4.8%
LG 57,661 46,432 4.6% 4.8%
Others 538,710 368,675 43.3% 28%
Total 1,244,890 969,721 100% 100%
Source: Gartner

Q4’14 was Apple’s best-ever quarter, selling 74.8 million units. Demand for iPhone 6 models was extremely high in the USA and China (up 88% and 56%, respectively).

Lenovo (results include Motorola sales) moved to third place, with a 6.6% market share (up 47.6%). Sales in Lenovo’s home market, China, were up 7.8% in Q4; the company also showed strong results in Russia, India, Indonesia and Brazil, with total worldwide sales rising 26% YoY.

Other Chinese vendors, such as Huawei and Xiaomi, continued to improve their domestic and overseas sales, especially in the low- and mid-range markets. “Chinese vendors are no longer followers”, said Cozza. “They are producing higher quality devices with appealing new hardware features that can rival the more established players in the mobile phone market. Brand building and marketing will be key activities in deciding which Chinese vendors can secure a foothold in mature markets”.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in Q4’14 (000s)
Vendor 2014 Units 2013 Units 2014 Market Share 2013 Market Share
Apple 74,832 50,224 20.4% 17.8%
Samsung 73,032 83,317 19.9% 29.5%
Lenovo 24,300 16,465 6.6% 5.8%
Huawei 21,038 16,057 5.7% 5.7%
Xiaomi 18,582 5,598 5.1% 2%
Others 155,701.6 111,204.3 42.4% 39.3%
Total 367,484.5 282,866.2 100% 100%
Source: Gartner

Low-cost availability accelerated users’ migration from feature phones to smartphones, pushing the smartphone OS market to double-digit growth in most emerging countries. Android particularly benefited from this, with market share increasing 2.2 percentage points (34%). Smaller players drove growth. Windows Phone’s performance was flat, but the OS had strong results in some European markets – especially in enterprise.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2014 (000s)
Operating System 2014 Units 2013 Units 2014 Market Share 2013 Market Share
Android 1,004,675 761,288 80.7% 78.5%
iOS 191,426 150,786 15.4% 15.5%
Windows 35,133 30,714 2.8% 3.2%
Blackberry 7,911 18,606 0.6% 1.9%
Other 5,745 8,327 0.5% 0.9%
Total 1,244,890 969,721 100% 100%
Source: Gartner

Total mobile phone sales to end users were almost 1.9 billion units: a 3.9% YoY rise. All regions recorded growth except Japan (down 2.8%) and Western Europe (down 9.1%).