Vendors shipped 1.43 billion smartphones last year, making 2015 a record year for the industry, according to preliminary results from IDC, the US-based international market research firm.
The record shipments marked an increase of10.1 percent compared with 2014 and a single-year record, IDC reported. For the fourth quarter, strong holiday demand helped boost shipments by 5.7 percent to 399.5 million units.
This bright report comes in the face of bleak warnings of slowing growth by smartphone giants, Apple and Samsung. Last week, Apple reported the slowest growth in iPhones since the company began selling the smartphones in 2007 and cautioned that iPhone sales are in for their first slump ever in the March quarter.
Samsung the world’s largest manufacturer of mobiles also said its mobile division recorded a three percent drop in sales, even as it notched a 13 percent rise in profit. The South Korean electronics giant also predicted that softening demand and intensifying competition would likely result in single-digit percentage growth in 2016.
With the first and second top mobile sellers reporting slowing sales, the vendors responsible for the smartphone sales boost in 2015 were Chinese companies led by Huawei, which reported strong growth for the last quarter as well as the whole year.
Coming in at No. 3 for the quarter, Huawei delivered the strongest quarterly growth in shipments among the top 5 vendors, according to IDC. The low-cost handset maker posted a 37 percent increase in shipments during the fourth quarter for an annual total of 106.6 million units shipped, becoming only the fourth mobile phone maker after Samsung, Apple and Nokia to ship more than 100 million units in a year.
Despite reporting declining mobile revenue in the third quarter, Samsung retained its smartphone crown in the fourth quarter by shipping 85.6 million units, an increase of 14 percent compared with the same quarter last year, IDC said. The Korean giant is expected to round out the year with 324.8 million shipments, an increase of only 2.1 percent, the market researcher said.
Meanwhile, No. 2 Apple saw 74.8 million phones shipped in the fourth quarter, a new high, IDC noted, but only 300,000 units more than it shipped in the fourth quarter of 2014. Strong demand in China and the US is expected to help Apple finish the year with 231.5 million phones shipped, an increase of 20.2 percent over the previous year. Rounding out the top five were two other China-based handset makers, Lenovo (combined with Motorola) and Xiaomi.
Despite encouraging results for 2015, analysts forecast that shipments of mobile phones will rise only 2.6 percent in 2016 and that revenue will likely fall. The sales growth of Chinese smartphone vendors reflect how much these brands have grown in recent years as international brands, and also point to the worldwide demand for cheaper smartphones that have features of high-end phones at a fraction of their price.