The Chinese smartphone market is one of the most important for smartphone makers around the world. China is also one of the biggest producers of smartphones, and not just because Apple and others have their phones assembled there.
A new ranking of the 12 top selling smartphone vendors contains 8 Chinese companies. The two top spots in the global smartphone market are still held by Samsung and Apple.
In 2015 and early 2016, there were numerous reports of slowing in the Chinese smartphone market. Since most of the Chinese smartphone producer’s sales are to Chinese customers, this slowdown became evident in some of their 2015 and 1Q16 smartphone sales figures. For example, China-based Coolpad’s smartphone sales dropped by 44% in 2015 to only 25.5 million units. Moreover, Xiaomi, a real “high-flyer” in smartphone sales in 2013 and 2014 saw its growth slow to 16% last year. While a 16% growth rate is still very commendable, its sales of about 71 million smartphones last year was well below the company’s earlier stated goal of shipping 100 million smartphones in 2015.
Figure 1 depicts actual 1Q16 smartphone unit sales by the top 12 companies with a forecast for their full-year 2016 unit volume shipments. As shown, eight of the top 12 companies are headquartered in China with an Indian company (Micromax) making the list for the first time. Gionee, a China-based smartphone supplier, just missed making the 1Q16 top 12 ranking after shipping 4.8 million handsets in the quarter.
As per IC Insights ” There will be very little middle ground with regard to smartphone shipment growth rates among the top 12 suppliers this year “. As shown, seven of the top twelve companies are forecast to register 2016 growth rates of 6% or less while the other five companies are expected to each log 29% or better increases. Further illustrating the maturing of the smartphone market, the top two suppliers, Samsung and Apple, are each forecast to show a slight decline in smartphone shipments this year.
Three companies are expected to drop out of the top 12 ranking this year as compared to 2015—Japan-based Sony, U.S.-based Microsoft, and China-based Coolpad. These three companies saw their 1Q16 sales of smartphones drop to 3.4, 2.3, and 4.0 million, respectively. Although Microsoft announced it intends to sell its non-smartphone business later this year, its early 2016 Lumia smartphones shipments put it on a path to sell less than 15 million units in 2016.