The worldwide smartphone market grew by 7% year over year and around 1.5 billion smartphones were sold during 2016. That’s all according to Gartner’s latest mobile market statistics for Q4 2016 and the entire year.
The report also shows that Apple has taken the number one spot for smartphone vendors during the holiday season, managing to outsell Samsung for the first time since 2014. Looking at the actual numbers, Gartner estimates Apple to have sold 77.03 million smartphones over the last quarter, equating to 17.9% of the overall market. Contrasting that, Samsung, which had to deal with the Galaxy Note7 disaster, sold only 76.78 million units, a 3% decline compared to the same time in 2015, and equating to 17.8% of the overall sales for the quarter.
The quarter was painful for Samsung, not only due to Apple’s resurgence and the Note7 issues, but also because the company is seeing ever-increasing pressure in its low and mid-range markets. Chinese vendors are continuing to expand heavily outside of Asia, and three out of the top seller come from this region. They are Huawei, which sold 40.8 million units, Oppo coming in at 26.7 million units and BBK with 24.28 million units. Together these three companies accounted for 21.03% of the worldwide market, up from 14% just one year previously.
In terms of operating systems on the devices sold, Android is still the absolute, unchallenged ruler, further expanding its market share by another one percentage point year over year. This means Android ran on 81.7% or 352.66 million devices sold over Q4 of 2016. Over the entirety of 2016 Android gained 3.2 percentage points and was the only OS to gain market share during the year.
Apple’s iOS saw very modest market share growth of 0.2% year over year, standing at 17.9% of devices sold over Q4 2016.
Perhaps the biggest losers of the year are, no surprise, Blackberry and Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile. First off, Microsoft’s platform only accounted for a measly 0.3% of the devices sold during last year’s final quarter, down from 1.1% a year earlier. This echoes other findings from market research companies like Kantar Worldpanel which saw vast declines in sales of Windows 10 Mobile devices, and IDC which predicted Microsoft’s OS will only account for 0.1% of the market by 2020. Judging by these latest results, it will only take one more quarter for the Windows-maker to reach that number.
Can you go lower than 0.3% of the market? The answer is an emphatic yes, coming from the company that was once the absolute ruler of the smartphone world: Blackberry. The company’s operating system and products accounted for 0.0% of the devices sold during Q4 of 2016, with Gartner estimating sales of only 200k units.
Perhaps there’s no better story illustrating the ever-changing nature of technology and innovation than Blackberry’s rise and fall. No doubt, current market leaders would do well to take that lesson to heart.