Global smartphone shipments saw strong growth in the 2014 third quarter, with heavyweights Samsung and Apple remaining ahead of the pack as other vendors gained momentum and built market share, International Data Corporation (IDC) figures reveal.IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker data shows vendors shipped a total of 327.6 million units during the 2014 third quarter, delivering 25.2 per cent year-on-year growth, driven by new releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets.
Ryan Reith, IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director, noted, despite rumours of a slowing market, smartphone shipments continue to see record-setting volumes.
Reith noted, while most developed markets are experiencing single-digit growth, emerging markets are still growing at more than 30 per cent collectively.
“In these markets, smartphone price-points are making mobile computing possible where we once expected feature phones to remain dominant,” he stated.
“This is great news for overall volumes, but the challenge has now become how to make money on devices that are quickly becoming commodity products – outside of Apple, many are struggling to do this.”
While Samsung remains a clear leader in the global smartphone market, followed by Apple in second place, the driving force behind the record smartphone volume was the combined effort of vendors trailing the two market leaders.
“The next three vendors – Xiaomi, Lenovo and LG Electronics – all posted market-beating growth and with markedly different strategies,” Ramon Llamas, IDC mobile phone team research manager, commented.
“This shows that there is still room to compete in this market, whether it be in the low-end as Lenovo has done, at the high-end where Xiaomi competes, or in both as LG Electronics has shown.
“Beyond the top five, there are a number of other vendors achieving similar results.”
Samsung claimed a 23.8 per cent share of the market in quarter three, down from 32.5 per cent year-on-year, with the IDC noting Samsung was the only company among the top five vendors to see its shipment volume decline year-on-year.
“With continued competitive pressure from nearly every side, coupled with cooling demand for its high-end devices, the company’s volumes have fallen from their previous highs at the start of the year,” the IDC stated.
“Although Samsung has long relied on its high-end devices, its mid-range and low-end models drove volume for the quarter and subsequently drove down ASPs [average selling prices].”
Apple, which unveiled its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during the quarter, claimed a 12 per cent share of the market, down marginally from 12.9 per cent year-on-year, however saw shipment volumes grow, posting its largest third quarter volume ever.
While Apple posted “strong results of 10 million units sold during its initial launch weekend”, the IDC stated sustained demand for its older iPhone 5S and 5C models should not be overlooked, comprising the bulk of its volume for the quarter.
Chinese company Xiaomi, meanwhile, jumped into the top five for the first time, taking out the number three position as a result of its focus on China and neighbouring markets, posting triple-digit year-on-year growth, claiming a 5.3 per cent share of the market.
The IDC stated the launch of its Mi4 smartphone in August, positioned as a high-end alternative to the status quo, was a key to Xiaomi’s success.
“What remains to be seen is how quickly the company can move beyond its home territories to drive volumes higher,” the IDC stated.
Lenovo and LG tied for fourth position (claiming market share of 5.2 and 5.1 per cent, respectively), with both companies posting solid year-on-year gains.
The IDC noted Lenovo improved on gains at home and abroad, with its share of non-China shipments rising steadily to hit 20 per cent, up from 9 per cent a year ago.
LG’s strategy to court the market with low-cost smartphones saw it push its total volumes past the 15 million unit mark for the first time in the company’s history, the IDC added.