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IDC: Smartphone shipments grew in Q4, but Huawei saw a steep decline

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has released a new quarterly report shining light on the state of the worldwide smartphone market in the three months ending in December 2020. In line with its forecast, the market grew 4.3% compared to the same period in 2019, even though 2020 as a whole saw 5.9% lower smartphone shipments than the previous year.

Research director Nobila Popal cites pent-up demand and aggressive marketing as the driving force for this recovery in the final stretch of the year. Popal adds:

"Vendors also seem to be better prepared for the second lockdown, ensuring they have the right channel set up ready to fulfill orders and reach the end consumer. Lockdowns also have people spending less on areas like leisure, travel, and dining out – and smartphones are benefitting from this. In addition to all these factors, the fast recovery and resilience of the smartphone supply chain also has to be given some credit."

Another interesting side to this story is the change in market share for the top five brands. For the fourth quarter, Apple led the pack with 90.1 million shipments and 23.4% market share, with Samsung trailing it with 73.9 million shipments and 19.1% of the market. Huawei, which was in third place in the same period of last year, dropped to fifth place with just 32.3 million units shipped, equal to 8.4% of the total. Its shipments dropped by 42.4% year-on-year.

Xiaomi and OPPO capitalized on that drop and took third and fourth place, respectively. Xiaomi shipped 43.3 million units and accounted for 11.2% of sales, while OPPO shipped 33.8 million phones and had a market share of 8.8%. Xiaomi grew the most out of any company, with a 32% increase in shipments, followed by Apple, which sold 22.2% more compared to the same period of last year.

The rest of 2020 paints a different picture, though, with Samsung retaining the top spot with 20.6% market share, down from 21.6% in 2019. Apple overtook Huawei in second place, with 15.9% of smartphone sales, up from 13.9% the previous year, while Huawei itself dropped from 17.5% market share to 14.6% in 2020. The Chinese brand has been heavily impacted by sanctions from the U.S. government and has recently been trying to save its businesses by selling them to other companies.

Xiaomi stayed in fourth place but saw its share of the market grow from 9.2% to 11.4%, and Vivo was fifth, going from 8% market share in 2019 to 8.6% in 2020. The remaining 28.7% of the market was taken by other brands, whose shipments dropped 9.4% overall compared to 2019.

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