IDC: iPhone SE will help compete in ‘numerous emerging markets’

According to the latest preliminary release from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16), up slightly from the 334.3 million units in 1Q15, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record. The minimal growth this quarter is primarily attributed to strong smartphone saturation in developed markets, as well as a year-over-year decline from both Apple and Samsung, the two market leaders.

As widely reported, Apple’s iPhone saw its first-ever year-over-year decline in the first quarter as volumes slipped to 51.2 million units, down 16.3% from last year. On the bright side, the iPhone SE looks to challenge similarly priced Android options in numerous emerging markets where Apple has traditionally been seen as too expensive, notes IDC. The SE will begin having an impact on iPhone shipments in the second quarter of 2016, adds the research group.

Samsung remained the leader in the worldwide smartphone market despite a year-over-year decline of 0.6% in shipments, according to IDC. Despite the slight decline, the new Galaxy S7 and S7 edge sold “vigorously” in the month of March and was helped by numerous enticing carrier promotions to help push volume, and within emerging markets, Samsung has performed well with its more affordable J-series as it looks to capture both budget conscious consumers and first-time buyers, adds the research group. 

The biggest change to the global smartphone market, however, was the addition of lesser-known Chinese brands OPPO and vivo, which pushed out previous fourth and fifth place players Lenovo and Xiaomi, respectively, according to IDC. As the China market matures, the appetite for smartphones has slowed dramatically as the explosion of uptake has passed its peak. In 2013, China's year-over-year shipment growth was 62.5%; by 2015, it had dropped to 2.5%. Conversely, the average selling price (ASP) for a smartphone in China rose from US$207 in 2013 to US$257 in 2015.