TrendForce: Apple will get closer to Samsung’s smartphone market share in 2016

Total smartphone shipments for 2015 are projected to decline by 9.7 percent to 1.286 billion units, according to the latest report from TrendForce. However, the global market research firm says Apple will begin closing the gap with Samsung when it comes to global smartphone market share.

“While Samsung has kept its shipment title through the year, it is struggling against Apple in the high-end market and being pushed out of the mid-range and low-end segments by Chinese competitors,” says Avrid Wu, TrendForce’s smartphone analyst. “Facing challenges on two fronts, Samsung’s smartphone business will operate in an increasingly difficult situation in the near future. Closely trailing Samsung in global shipments is Apple, which remains as the dominant and most profitable vendor in the high-end market.”

Wu thinks Apple will release an upgraded 4-inch iPhone C series in the second quarter of 2016 (though I don’t think so).  The analyst adds that major selling points of the “iPhone 7” will be the 3GB memory upgrade for the 5.5-inch model and a waterproof feature. Based on TrendForce’s estimation, about 260 million iPhones will be shipped in 2016, representing an annual growth of 12.5 percent and a market share of 18.5 percent. With the smartphone market becoming less profitable, iPhone will still have the highest margin next year compared with products from rival vendors.

As for the current market leader Samsung, Wu believes that the vendor will still have the largest market share worldwide in 2016. However, Samsung’s shipments are anticipated to drop four percent annually to 310 million due to Chinese competitors undercutting its prices. Apple is anticipated to significantly narrow its market share gap with Samsung next year as well. 

TrendForce analysis indicates that Samsung will hold 22 percent of the global smartphone market in 2016, a decline from 2015. Wu added that Samsung’s flagship devices for this year have hit the ceiling in specs, so the South Korean powerhouse will be straining to bring hardware innovations to its next smartphone release.