Chinese vendors climbing list of global smartphone shipments

Chinese vendors Huawei and Lenovo are making waves in the global smartphone market, according to new data on global smartphone shipments from research firm IDC Corp.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker for the second quarter of 2014, 295.3 million phones were shipped, a year-over-year increase of 23.1 per cent and sequential growth of 2.6 per cent over the first quarter. According to the report, the market was fueled by continuing demand for mobile computing and the availability of low-cost smartphones in the market. IDC is forecasting shipments will surpass 300 million units in Q3 for the first time ever in a single quarter.

“A record second quarter proves that the smartphone market has plenty of opportunity and momentum,” said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “Right now we have more than a dozen vendors that are capable of landing in the top five next quarter. A handful of these companies are currently operating in a single country, but no one should mistake that for complacency – they all recognize the opportunity that lies outside their home turf.”

Samsung led the vendor rankings with 25.2 per cent of the market in Q2, although IDC called it a challenging quarter for the Korean vendor, with a 3.9 per cent decline in shipments.  It stayed strong though with millions of Galaxy S5 units shipped, and continued strong S4 and S3 volumes as affordable alternatives.

Apple was second with 11.9 per cent of the market and, although it grew shipments by 12.4 per cent, its growth was greatly outpaced by other vendors. With many waiting for the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple’s numbers will be dependent on the timing of that launch.

According to IDC, the main catalyst for growth in Q2 was emerging markets supported by local vendors, and Chinese OEMs greatly outpaced the market in Q2. The top competitor was Huawei, which ranked third in market share with 20.3 per cent of global shipments, growing shipment volume by 95.1 per cent. The major Chinese carriers moving to 4G LTE networks and subsidizing 4G handsets to fuel adoption helped fuel this growth.


Lenovo was next with 15.8 per cent of the market, growing unit volume in Q2 by 38.7 per cent. While China was a major reason for Lenovo’s strong quarter, the vendor also grew its nascent move into other emerging markets, with strong growth in the BRIIC countries.

LG rounded-out the top five with 14.5 per cent of the market, growing shipments by 19.8 per cent over the same period one year ago.

“As the death of the feature phone approaches more rapidly than before, it is the Chinese vendors that are ready to usher emerging market consumers into smartphones. The offer of smartphones at a much better value than the top global players but with a stronger build quality and larger scale than local competitors gives these vendors a precarious competitive advantage,” said Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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