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India is rare bright spot in a shrinking global smartphone market

March 4, 2020: Global sales of smartphones  shrunk slightly  in the last quarter of 2019, declining by 0.4% year over year and over the full year 2019, sales declined by 1.0%, finds a Gartner study. The saving grace was India.
 “2019 ended a little better than expected, due to slightly improved performances from North America and emerging Asia/Pacific,” said  Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner. “However, India, which sold 151.9 million units, overtook the U.S. to become the No. 2 country for smartphone sales in 2019. China maintained the lead, with sales of 390.8 million smartphones over the full year.”
Apple and Xiaomi were the only vendors in the top five to achieve growth in the fourth quarter of 2019.Even with a decline in sales, Samsung held on to the No. 1 position with 17.3% market share. Apple secured the No. 2 position with 17.1% of the market.
After four consecutive quarters of decline, Apple’s iPhone sales returned to growth, with an increase of 7.8% in the fourth quarter. “A slight lowering of the prices of the iPhone 11 series, compared with the iPhone XR, and other price reductions for previous-generation iPhone models, increased demand. It also helped Apple regain the No. 2 position,” said  Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner.
 Sales of iPhones were particularly strong in China, where they grew by 39% in the fourth quarter. Apple also performed strongly in certain mature and developing markets, such as the U.K., France, Germany, Brazil and India.
Gartner analysts expect Apple will launch its first 5G smartphone in the third quarter of 2020. This will encourage users to upgrade in countries where 5G network services are available.
Xiaomi’s smartphone sales totaled 32.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2019 — a 16.5% increase, year over year. “This strong performance enabled Xiaomi to overtake OPPO and take the No. 4 spot,” said Mr. Gupta. “The price and performance of Redmi models drove Xiaomi’s smartphone sales growth, and the company did particularly well in emerging Asia/Pacific.”
In China, Xiaomi started increasing its smartphone prices to increase profits. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in China presents some challenges to retail-focused vendors such as OPPO and Vivo, but creates opportunity for Xiaomi, which has been expanding its online channel strategy.
Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi grew in 2019, even as Total Smartphone Sales Declined
Despite a small (0.5%) year-over-year contraction in its smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2019, Samsung maintained its No. 1 position in the global ranking for 2019. It increased its full-year sales by 0.4% to 296.2 million units