Ten of the top 14 smartphone suppliers in 2016 come from China, accounting for 39% of the market share.
IC Insights, in its latest report on the smartphone, automotive, PC/tablet and IoT markets, has ranked in terms of unit shipments the top smartphone vendors of 2016 and revealed that 7 out of the top 10 and 10 out of of the top 14 companies are headquartered in China (figure 1).
South Korean (Samsung and LG), one U.S. (Apple) and one Taiwanese company (Asus) make up the remainder of the companies listed. It is interesting to note that Oppo and Vivo, the two fastest growing smartphone suppliers on the list last year, with each company growing by almost 90%, are owned by the same China-based parent company—BBK Electronics.
*Figure 1: Smartphone units sold by top smartphone suppliers from 2014-2016. (Source: IC Insights, company reports) *
Samsung and Apple dominated the smartphone market from 2014 through 2016. In total, these two companies shipped 555 million smartphones and held a combined 39% share of the total smartphone market in 2015. Although these two companies still shipped over half a billion smartphones (526 million) in 2016, their combined smartphone unit market share dropped four percentage points to 35%.
Samsung’s total smartphone unit sales were down by 4% in 2016 to 311 million units, a weak showing in a total smartphone market that grew by 4%. With orders sagging for Apple’s pre-iPhone 7 smartphones (the iPhone 7 was first released on September 7, 2016), Apple’s total smartphone shipments dropped by 7% in 2016, much worse than the total 4% growth rate exhibited for the worldwide smartphone market. Although Samsung and Apple still hold a strong share of the high-end smartphone segment (>$200), it appears that both companies are losing smartphone market share to the up-and-coming Chinese producers like Huawei, OPPO and Vivo.
Overall, there was very little “middle ground” with regard to smartphone shipment growth rates among the top 14 suppliers in 2016. As shown, seven of the top 14 companies registered declines in 2016 shipments while five companies logged 25% or better increases. In fact, four Chinese smartphone suppliers’ shipments surged by greater than 30% (Vivo, OPPO, Gionee and Huawei) in 2016. LeEco, which only began shipping its smartphone handsets in 2015, became Coolpad’s largest shareholder in October 2016. As a result, IC Insights combined the two companies’ smartphone sales for 2015 and 2016.
In 2014, Japan-based Sony was ranked 10th in smartphone shipments with sales of 40.0 million handsets. However, in 2016, Sony’s shipments of smartphones had dropped precipitously to only 15.1 million (with sales expected to increase only slightly in 2017 to about 16 million). In contrast to the weakening fortunes of Sony, 2015–2016 smartphone sales from most of the top China-based suppliers surged. In fact, Huawei, the third largest smartphone producer in 2016, has set its sights on surpassing Apple within the next five years.
Combined, 10 of the top 14 smartphone suppliers that are based in China shipped 587 million smartphones in 2016, a 15% increase from the 511 million smartphones these 10 companies shipped in 2015. As a result, the top 10 Chinese smartphone suppliers together held a 39% share of the worldwide smartphone market in 2016, up three points from the 36% share these companies held in 2015 and seven points better than the 32% combined share these companies held in 2014.