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Q4 2017 global smartphone sales value spiked thanks to the iPhone X

iPhone X

A couple of early looks at the Q4 2017 global smartphone market indicate the iPhone X sold well and dragged the average selling price up with it.

GfK, which derives its data from point-of-sale terminals, reckons global ASPs experienced a record spike in Q4, growing 11% year-on-year. This trend seems to have been driven mainly by Europe and Asia, with Central and Eastern Europe ASP jumping 28% and Western Europe seeing the average sale value increase by 17% despite a 3% decline in sales volume.

“Smartphone year-on-year demand growth moderated for the fourth consecutive quarter, rising only one percent to 397 million units in 4Q17,” said Arndt Polifke, Global Director of PoS telecom research at GfK. “However, sales value increased by 11 percent year-on-year in the quarter, which is exceptional growth for such a mature technology category. This came as the proliferation of smartphones with larger and bezel-less displays incentivized consumers to purchase more expensive devices.”

“The outlook for 2018 is positive as GfK forecasts global smartphone demand to rise by three percent compared to 2017, driven by Emerging Asia and Central and Eastern Europe,” said Yotaro Noguchi, product lead in GfK’s trends and forecasting division. “With saturation in developed markets, consumer retention will be a key focus for smartphone makers, which, alongside increased commoditization, will encourage greater innovation and differentiation in order to spur sales.”

GfK Q4 2017

GfK didn’t comment on vendors but it can’t be a coincidence that Q4 2017 also marked the first time the £1,000 iPhone X went on sale. Yes, there are other expensive flagship smartphones out there too, but that was the biggie. Some early vendor numbers from Canalys, which derives its data from further up the smartphone channel, indicate Apple managed to flog a nice lot of Xs – 29 million to be precise.

“The iPhone X performance is impressive for a device priced at US$999, but it is slightly below industry expectations,” said Ben Stanton, Analyst at Canalys. “Apple struggled with supply issues in early November, but achieved a massive uplift in production in late November and throughout December.

“This helped it meet and even exceed demand in some markets by the end of the quarter. One major benefit to Apple is that customers are increasingly realizing the residual value of their old smartphones, opting for trade-in programs to offset the high price of the iPhone X. But that big price tag, and Apple’s split launch strategy, still had an impact, and shipments were not the fastest ever for an iPhone.”

It should be noted that Apple has yet to publish its shipments numbers and doesn’t publicly break them out by model. One of the main roles for industry analysts is to be better guessers than everyone else, so this Canalys datapoint needs to be treated as guidance rather than definitive. Having said that history has shown that large numbers of people with find the money for the latest Apple shiny thing, regardless of the price tag, so there’s no reason to wholly distrust the 29 million figure.


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