Oppo R9s phone

Apple edged out Samsung to take the phone sales top spot for the fourth quarter of 2016. The real winners are Chinese: Huawei, Oppo and BBK.

Although Apple and Samsung get the most attention, the rise of the Chinese phone makers is the big story of the last 18 months.

Oppo was started by BBK, but runs as an independent company. The company began operating in New Zealand late last year. Its best-known phones have similar specification to Android handsets costing twice as much.

The two brands have come from almost nowhere to challenge some of the world’s biggest companies. Both companies are secretive about financials and don’t reveal profit margins. They are probably low even by non-Apple phone industry standards.

Phone sales up in 2016

Gartner reports total sales for the quarter were up by a healthy seven percent. Phone makers sold 432 million units in the full 2016 year for a five percent year-on-year rise.

Samsung sales fell for the second quarter in a row. Its share for the year ended 2.9 percent down on 2015. This was due to the company dropping the troubled Galaxy Note 7 which left a hole in Samsung’s range.

Tough times at Samsung meant Apple moved to top place by the slimmest of margins. The company sold a shade over 77 million iPhones in the quarter while Samsung sold a fraction under 77 million units.

The companies were on 17.9 and 17.8 percent market share for the quarter.

Samsung was top for the full year with a 20.5 percent market share, well ahead of Apple on 14.4 percent.

Chinese phone makers growing share

The big news is the next tier where three Chinese phone makers boosted their market share to a collective 21.3 percent. Huawei lead the charge selling almost 41 million phones. It had a 9.5 percent market share. That’s up from eight percent a year earlier

Oppo was next on 6.2 percent a big jump up from the 3.2 percent a year earlier. BBK Communication also doubled its share from 2.8 to 5.6 percent. The others category fell from 47.6 to 43.1 percent.

Worldwide smartphone sales to users by operating system in 4Q16 (thousands of units)

Operating System

4Q16
Units

4Q16 Market Share (%)

4Q15
Units

4Q15 Market Share (%)

Android

352,669.9

81.7

325,394.4

80.7

iOS

77,038.9

17.9

71,525.9

17.7

Windows

1,092.2

0.3

4,395.0

1.1

BlackBerry

207.9

0.0

906.9

0.2

Other OS

530.4

0.1

887.3

0.2

Total

431,539.3

100.0

403,109.4

100.0

Source: Gartner (February 2017)

4 thoughts on “Apple back at top, but Chinese brands are phone market winners

    • For phones? Not long unless Microsoft pulls a rabbit out of a hat. That can still happen, but is less likely to succeed with every month that passes.

      • To my mind, Microsoft has never really “got” phone OS’s. Even PalmOS (back in the day) was far superior to the MS ‘equivalent’ of the same era.

        Their latest offering is an improvement, but too late to do them any good…

        • Four years ago the Nokia Lumia Windows phones were great. I had one for 18 months, the Microsoft software was fine but the third party apps were mainly second rate. Microsoft is one of the few companies that could have fixed the problem. It chose not to.

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