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Smartphone Shipments Rebound in Q1

vincent Lemuwa

Phone companies shipped a total of 347.4 million smartphones globally in the first quarter of 2017, with shipments up 4.3%.

This is according to the International Data Corporation's (IDC's) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, which notes consumers continue to show demand for smartphones despite a slowing market, and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) flagship hype seems as strong as ever.

"The first quarter smartphone results further prove that the smartphone industry is not dead and that growth still exists," says Ryan Reith, programme vice-president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "There is no question that 2016 was a pivotal year for the industry as growth dipped to low single digits for the first time. However, we believe the industry will show some rebound in 2017, and the strong first quarter results certainly support this argument."

Big flagship announcements from Huawei with the P10 devices and Samsung with the Galaxy S8 devices show that innovation is still possible, says IDC. Samsung regained control as the leader in the worldwide smartphone market despite a flat first quarter. Huawei once again demonstrated its stable position in the premium market with the P and Mate Series, and a strong presence in the affordable sector with its Y Series and Honor brand.

This week, Apple reported a surprise fall in iPhone sales for its second quarter, indicating customers may have held back purchases in anticipation of the 10th-anniversary edition of the company's most important product, expected later this year. Apple remained essentially flat, selling 50.76 million iPhones in its fiscal second quarter ended 1 April, down from 51.19 million a year earlier.

"Although we have seen an abundance of premium redesigned flagships that just entered the market, moving forward, we still expect most of the growth to come from more affordable models in a variety of markets," says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Despite all the popularity and media hype around premium devices, we continue to witness a shift in many companies' portfolios geared towards affordable devices with premium-type styling compared to flagship models."

Meanwhile, the latest research from Strategy Analytics found global smartphone shipments grew 6% annually to reach 353 million units in Q1 2017. Samsung recaptured first position with 23% global smartphone market share, while Apple dipped to 14% share. OPPO surged 78% annually and was once again the star performer, adds the report.

Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, says: "Global smartphone shipments grew a steady 6% annually from 333.1 million units in Q1 2016 to 353.3 million in Q1 2017. The global smartphone market reached a bottom in the first quarter of 2016, when it fell 3%, but demand has picked back up and the growth outlook for this year is improving due to economic recovery and stronger consumer sentiment in major regions like China and Brazil."

According to research firm Gartner, worldwide combined shipments of mobile phones, PCs, tablets and ultra-mobiles are projected to remain flat in 2017, with shipments for these devices projected to total 2.3 billion this year, the same as 2016 estimates.