The smartphone world is just about to get interesting. Oppo and Vivo, two Chinese smartphone brands that have been trying to break into markets outside their home country, China, for a while now, have outdone themselves and managed to top the charts in Q1 2016. According to the latest quarterly data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the two smartphone brands successfully managed to unseat Xiaomi and Lenovo from the list of the top 5 smartphone vendors in the first quarter of the year.
With estimated shipments of 18.5 million smartphone units in Q1 2016, Oppo’s expansion strategy that has seen it enter several markets in Africa (including Kenya where it started selling its smartphones last year) and Asia seems to be paying off. Rival Xiaomi has also set its sights on the same markets and this means that we’re set for an interesting year ahead.
Vivo, the smartphone brand that boasts of having the world’s first 6 GB RAM mobile device, managed to increase its market share from slightly under 2% same time last year to a little over 4% after shipping 14.3 million units in Q1 2016, a 123.8% year-over-year growth. What should get your ears, however, is that Vivo is not yet even started. While it has been churning out premium devices that will make anyone drool at the sight of its press images and spec sheets, it has been largely confined to China and a handful of other Asian markets. Now what will happen when, like compatriots Xiaomi and Oppo, it starts expanding further from home?
Most device makers have spent the better part of the first quarter of 2016 introducing new smartphones and the results of their hard work may not be immediately captured in the figures quoted in this article. Xiaomi has two new high-profile smartphones in the market. The impressive Mi 5 just went on sale recently while the budget Redmi Note 3 is only becoming available in key markets at the moment. Another device, the Xiaomi Mi Max, is expected to be unveiled soon. These and other devices from other vendors like Samsung, LG, Huawei and HTC are likely to shake things up a bit by the turn of the next quarter.
Samsung continues its hold of the top smartphone charts even though shipments fell by 0.6% to stand at 81.9 million units for nearly 25% market share. Interest in Apple’s iPhone seems to have waned in the first quarter of the year as iPhone shipments fell by a whopping 16.3% to stand at 51.2 million units, a distant second from Samsung. This is despite the company having debuted a new slightly fairly priced iPhone, the SE, a month ago. The iPhone SE’s impact on Apple’s shipment numbers is expected to be felt in Q2 2016 by which time rumours of the iPhone 7 should be nearing top gear.
Of the top 3 smartphone vendors, only Chinese device maker Huawei managed to register positive growth. With a year-over-year growth of 58.4%, Huawei managed to ship 27.5 million smartphone units in Q1 2016 and cemented its both its hold of the Chinese smartphone market and the number 3 slot it snagged from Xiaomi last year. Huawei is expected to keep the momentum through to Q2 when its latest smartphones, the P9 and the P9 Plus, become available in the market.
In all, 334.9 million smartphones were shipped in the first 3 months of 2016. That is an increase of just 600,000 units shipped over a similar period last year. The negligible rise in smartphone shipments is mainly attributed to market saturation. China, where most smartphone shipments have headed to over the years, seems to have hit the roof and smartphone vendors are forced to source for new ways of enticing buyers as well as exploring new markets.