Apple results are out (yes, world's most profitable company. This blog is NOT about profits or wall street stock performance). So how did Apple iPhone do in the smartphone wars? Lost another point of market share last year. That is what it did. Apple sales 77.3 million units in calendar Quarter 4 ie October-December Quarter. That is down 1% vs the same quarter last year (while the industry grew 5%). Currently Apple has its best moment of the year as the new phone models came out, and only manages 17% quarterly market share (previous years the Christmas Quarter had done better than 21% even). This is down from 18% market share this same quarter a year ago.
For full year numbers, Apple just barely inched better sales than the year before. It was up by 400,000 units from 215.4M to 215.8M but that IS growth, technically. In reality it is less than half of one percent - so it is flat vs year before. Don't kid yourself. Apple annual sales were flat. And considering its headwinds this past year, that is doing pretty well, all things considered. But market share, that is a different story. Apple annual market share lost another point and is now at 14%.
For the record, the Top 5 smartphone manufacturing companies globally for the year 2017 are:
1 Samsung about 320 million units and 21% market share
2 BBK (=Vivo, Oppo & OnePlus brands, from China) about 250 million units, 16% market share
3 Apple, 216 million units, 14% market share
4 Huawei, 153 million units, 10% market share
5 Xiaomi, about 90-95 million units, 6% market share
And for Apple watchers, at one point Apple did 20% of all smartphones sold. The last three years? 16%, 15% and now 14%. I think we see the trend, eh?
And obviously, it means that currently iOS only sells 14% of all new smartphones, constantly dropping in share, as Android is at 86% of new sales.
Separately, that 77.3M gives us an intriguing wait for the estimates of Samsung's final Q4 number. I have it roughly estimated at 77.0M. And obviously if I happened to hit that number, then Apple would be larger than Samsung for the Q4 quarter (but obviously not for the full year). This means that the shortly-announced Q4 numbers from the major analyst houses will be an interesting news cycle. Some may be tempted to slightly push Samsung estimates down, to get Apple above Sammy, to get a good news story. And I'm not suggesting any reputable analyst house would do that. It may very well be, that Apple did beat Samsung in the Christmas sales period. Now, if I was Samsung, AND if my number was above 77.3M, I would come out with my official number. Samsung very very rarely release any official or semi-official counts of their phone business. BUT obviously if Samsung is below 77.3, then they'd just continue their normal policy of not releasing the number. Some intrigue there. Lets see how the big analyst houses count Sammy and take that average, and see who won the Christmas sales period last year. It will be nail-bitingly close...
Ok. Remember in the comments, no discussion about Apple's obscene levels of profits, yes they are the most profitable company of all time. This blog is not a Wall Street investment blog. We are interested in the tech platforms and whatever hope some silly analysts had, of Apple somehow winning the platform wars, that myth was busted years ago. Apple's iOS is a niche OS platform for rich customers mostly in the Western and Industrialized countries. Android is the only smartphone platform of global and almost universal reach.