IHS Markit: Global smartphone unit shipments grew 3% in 2017

Feb. 2, 2018

Global smartphone unit shipments grew 3% in 2017, reaching 1.44 billion units, according to IHS Markit. Based on preliminary data, “…global smartphone unit shipments declined by 4.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 387.5 million units,” write Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst, mobile location and mobile devices; Jusy Hong, principal analyst, mobile devices and mobile media; and Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile and telecoms. They note that shipments grew 3.1% year over year, from 1.40 billion units in 2016 to 1.44 billion units in 2017.

“Of the leading handset brands, only Xiaomi and Motorola experienced shipment growth in the fourth quarter of 2017,” they write. They note that Apple led the market in the fourth quarter, shipping 77.3 million units, down 1.2% from the previous year. Second place finisher Samsung’s shipments declined 2.2%, to 74.3 million units. Apple shipped 20% percent of all smartphones in the fourth quarter, followed by Samsung at 19%.

Courtesy of IHS Markit
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The iPhone X’s high price helped boost Apple’s average selling price, the researchers note, raising it to $796, or $101 higher than the previous year. Consequently, the company was able to boost revenue in 2017 even though it sold fewer handsets.

The researchers point out several other findings:

  • Samsung improved its product mix but had to spend more to market its devices.
  • Huawei followed Apple and Samsung, with shipments declining 8.6% to 40.9 million units in Q4.
  • Xiaomi continues its strong growth curve, which began in the second quarter of 2017.

“Many smartphone brands will experience changes in 2018,” conclude Schneemann, Hong, and Fogg. “Google and HTC just completed their deal to transfer personnel and IP from HTC to Google, and LGE’s smartphone business will continue to drag down the company’s overall performance. Other brands also face hard decisions over the next few quarters.”

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