During the second quarter of 2016, smartphone shipments saw a modest return to growth after a first quarter which saw the first ever year-over-year decline in worldwide smartphone sales. Samsung came first in overall smartphone shipments, with about 80 million in total.
The firm ascribes its leadership in the market to strong Galaxy S7 sales, as well as bundling of the Samsung Gear VR headset. Samsung made its virtual reality accessory free with Galaxy S7 pre-orders at launch, and other bundle offers followed periodically post-launch. The firm believes Samsung’s embrace of mobile VR in partnership with Oculus helped boost flagship handset sales. Apple, which had less than half the number of Samsung sales in 2Q, came in second place with around 40 million handsets.
Apple admitted that the iPhone SE had not gained as much purchase in Apple’s key target markets as the company would have liked, including China and India, owing to a price in those markets that is still high relative to the competitive field. Huawei rounded out the top three among smartphone manufacturers, increasing total shipments to 31 million, but that is still off its stated shipment goal of 140 million total units for the year. Clearly, the Chinese OEM will need to grow its presence in the US to meet its target.
A return to growth is a good sign for the overall health of the global smartphone market, but it still seems like a big slowdown of the early fervor in the category for 2016. We have seen it before: the PC market flattened out and remains flat, but its stagnation was offset by the advent of smartphones. If smartphone sales are indeed finding their plateau, we have not yet seen their obvious successor in global growth.