As Tablets Tumble, Smartphone Sales Are Going Up


Nearly 1.5 billion smartphones were shipped in 2016, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year. Contrast this with the grim statistics from another mobile segment: tablets. 6.6% fewer tablets were shipped last year compared to 2016. Heaven and earth.

There are a couple of reasons to explain why tablets are no longer the hottest-selling items and they had to heavily rely on the holiday season to get a boost but the chief one is the rise and rise of the big smartphone. The phablet. The phablet’s presence in the market at very affordable rates has made it almost unnecessary for users to wish for devices with much larger displays like tablets.

According to research firm Gartner, the numbers favouring smartphones were even higher (7%)! Buoyed by the holidays and the availability on the global of most of the devices unveiled in Q3, Q4 was a big boon to smartphone vendors particularly Apple and those from China. Korea’s Samsung can blame its lag in that period on its ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. The device, which was pulled out of the market shortly after launch, contributed to Samsung being leapfrogged by Chinese device maker Huawei in the global charts (profits-wise) in the third quarter in the Android vendor segment and by Apple in the following quarter (shipment-wise) in the overall smartphone vendor rankings.

Apple topped Samsung by a hair in its record-breaking quarter by selling 77 million iPhones to customers around the world.

The gap in the market left by the exploding Galaxy Note 7 was quickly filled by Huawei with its Mate 9 smartphone which launched and became available in the market, shortly after disaster struck Samsung. As such, coupled with its ever-increasing portfolio of budget smartphones, Huawei was able to grow its market share from 8% to nearly double digits (9.5%) in Q4 2016. Huawei managed to narrow down the gap in terms of number of smartphones shipped in Q4 between it and Samsung to just 36 million units, down from 50 million the previous year.

Other Chinese smartphone brands, most notably those that fall under the BBK Communications umbrella (Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus), continued their global domination, increasing their market share by nearly 100%.

With 0% market share in Q4 2016, BlackBerry OS is dead

On the platform front, with devices from nearly all the top 6 smartphone vendors (except Apple, obviously) running Android, it is not quite surprising that it tops the platform list with a whopping 82% market share. iOS comes a distant second at 18%. Microsoft’s Windows’ mobile platform’s presence is negligible while BlackBerry OS is dead, literally, as BlackBerry devices are now running Android.


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