The fourth quarter saw global shipments of smartphones stall, with unit growth of just 0.1 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
That’s according to Gartner, which said in a press release on Thursday (Feb. 21) that Apple suffered the worst quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2016. During the fourth quarter, Apple iPhone shipments declined 11.8 percent.
“Demand for entry-level and mid-price smartphones remained strong across markets, but demand for high-end smartphones continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2018,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner, in a press release announcing the results of the research. “Slowing incremental innovation at the high end, coupled with price increases, deterred replacement decisions for high-end smartphones. This led to a flat-growth market in the fourth quarter of 2018.”
According to Gartner, during the fourth quarter, sales of the iPhone reached only 64.5 million units, resulting in the double-digit decline. Apple also had the biggest dip in growth compared to all of the top five global smartphone vendors. During the fourth quarter, Apple saw weak demand in most regions except for North America and mature Asia/Pacific. Sales declined the most in China, where the company’s market share dropped to 8.8 percent during the last three months of the year. In the fourth quarter of 2017, its market share in China stood at 14.6 percent, noted Gartner.
“Apple has to deal not only with buyers delaying upgrades as they wait for more innovative smartphones, but it also continues to face compelling high-price and mid-price smartphone alternatives from Chinese vendors,” Gupta said in the press release. “Both these challenges limit Apple’s unit sales growth prospects.”
During the fourth quarter, Gartner said Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S9 and Note9, didn’t do much to drive growth. In the mid-tier market, Xiaomi and Huawei continued to grab more market share. As a result, Samsung’s smartphone sales declined by 4.4 percent during the fourth quarter. Gartner said Samsung lost market share in Greater China, Western Europe and Latin America, which contributed to an overall 8.2 percent decline in smartphone sales.