IDC has an early guess at the Q1 2017 smartphone market

pile of smartphones

Analyst firm IDC has published ‘preliminary’ smartphone shipment numbers several days before Apple announces its own, which anticipate further growth.

Apple always announces its device shipments numbers during its quarterly earnings announcement, which is due to take place late on 2 May. Samsung doesn’t publish its numbers but tends not to even offer guidance to analysts until Apple has shown its hand, which makes it likely IDC has taken a bit of a punt on those too.

IDC is forecasting overall global growth of 4.3% in smartphone shipments, driven almost entirely by Chinese vendors. Its early call on the Samsung and Apple numbers has them essentially flat, year-on-year, and the same goes for the long tail. Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, however, are all expected to grow their shipments by more than 20% year on year, with the latter two deriving pretty much all their sales from middle price tiers in the Chinese market.

“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” said Anthony Scarsella of IDC.

“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. Companies have started to implement a single premium design language that ultimately blurs the lines between the high-end and the low-end, allowing the average consumer to jump on the brand without a hefty upfront investment.”

Fellow analyst firm Canalys recently published its view of the Chinese market, which has Huawei Oppo and Vivo now accounting for the majority of it. Since Canalys reckons the whole Chinese smartphone market grew by only 9% in Q1, the only way those three could have managed that kind of growth is by taking a lot of share from the likes of Xiaomi, Apple, etc.

The IDC numbers are below. It will be interesting to see what adjustments may be made to them in a week’s time. “Data is preliminary and subject to change,” says a caveat underneath the data. “Some IDC estimates were made prior to financial earnings reports.” While it’s easy to see why IDC might be keen to get its numbers out before its competitors, publishing estimates as ‘preliminary data’ is a dangerous game to play.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q1 2017 Preliminary Data (Shipments in Millions)
Vendor 1Q17 Shipment Volume 1Q17 Market Share 1Q16 Shipment Volume 1Q16 Market Share Year-Over-Year Change
1. Samsung 79.2 22.8% 79.2 23.8% 0.0%
2. Apple 51.6 14.9% 51.2 15.4% 0.8%
3. Huawei 34.2 9.8% 28.1 8.4% 21.7%
4. OPPO 25.6 7.4% 19.7 5.9% 29.8%
5. vivo 18.1 5.2% 14.6 4.4% 23.6%
Others 138.7 39.9% 140.0 42.1% -1.0%
Total 347.4 100.0% 332.9 100.0% 4.3%
Source: IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, April 27, 2017

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