So we're into the quarterly sales data in the smartphone wars. Apple reported 50.8 million units of iPhones in calendar quarter 1 ie January-March quarter. That is down 1% vs same quarter a year ago. More relevantly, this is now the second consecutive year that the first quarter of the year starts with unit sales actually down vs the same period the year before. Apple's best-ever Q1 was in 2015, when they sold 61.1 million iPhones. That came down to 51.2 million in Q1 of 2016 and now down further to 50.8 million for Q1 of 2017. Apple's peak year in total annual iPhone unit sales was of course also 2015 with 231.4 million unit sales. That came down to 215.4 million last year and now this weak start to 2017 suggests Apple heading to perhaps flat, perhaps even slightly more down sales this year. The market share picture looks worse, Q1 of last year Apple held 15.3% and now has 14.6% a decline of three quarters of one point of market share.
In terms of annual market share, Apple picked a good year to have declining sales last year, as the industry growth overall stumbled and was essentially flat. So Apple's market share did not suffer much. They dropped from 16.1% in 2015 to 14.6% in 2016. But the industry has returned to growth. The industry is now again growing at 4% per year and now if Apple sales are flat vs 2016, their market share will fall to about 14%. And until the next models arrive, there is nothing to rescue the rest of the year from the regular annual 'down-cycle' that Apple now is in. This before we consider the rumors that the new iPhone 8 may be delayed in its launch.
If Apple ends at 14% it is nothing to sneeze at, Apple is safely the second-largest smartphone maker still this year, but Huawei might break into double-digits and if this year ends with a race say of Apple around 14% and Huawei around 12%, then NEXT year we could have a real race... Also please remember, Apple is the most profitable company in human economic history and sits on a gargantual pile of cash. They are more rich than god. So don't cry for Apple, they're definitely the biggest winner in smartphones, in handsets, in mobile, in tech and in corporate industry the planet has ever seen. But just don't think the iOS ecosystem is a 'mass market'. It is a niche market for rich people - albeit a very large niche market.