According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.4 million units during the fourth quarter of 2018 (4Q18), down 4.9% year-over-year and the fifth consecutive quarter of decline.
Apple saw iPhone volumes drop 11.5% in 4Q18 marking one of the more challenging iPhone quarters in terms of growth, despite the three new models. Total iPhone volumes were down 3.2% for the full year. as its two largest markets (the United States and China) both experienced the worst year for smartphone performance ever.
But it’s not just Apple that’s hurting. Samsung saw smartphone volumes decline 5.5% in 4Q18 with total shipments of 70.4 million units. While this was enough to maintain the top position for the quarter, its share once again fell below 20% to 18.7%, just a few points above Apple and Huawei. Things weren't much better for the full year as 2018 volumes were down 8% to 292.3 million.
The holiday quarter closes out the worst year ever for smartphone shipments with global smartphone volumes declining 4.1% in 2018 with a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year. With challenging market conditions continuing into the first quarter of 2019, the likelihood of a declining market this year becomes more of a reality, says Ryan Reith, program vice president, IDC. He says several factors are at play, including lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points.