Smartphones are back in demand as shipments grow by 25% – Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi consolidate market share

Smartphones are back in demand as shipments grow by 25% – Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi consolidate market share
Samsung is the top smartphone maker once againRounak Jain
  • The smartphone industry has reason to rejoice, as smartphone shipments bounced back strongly in the first three months of 2021.
  • The top smartphone makers consolidated their positions at the expense of beleaguered Chinese tech giant Huawei.
  • Overall, 346 million smartphones were shipped in the first quarter of 2021.
Smartphone shipments in the first three months of 2021 registered a sharp recovery, growing by 25% as compared to the tepid 4.3% increase recorded in the previous quarter. China and the Asia Pacific led the surge in demand, accounting for half of all global shipments.

According to the latest IDC report, a total of 346 million smartphones were shipped in the first three months of 2021. The top five smartphone companies accounted for 250 million shipments, cornering nearly 75% of the market amongst themselves.

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Smartphones are back in demand as shipments grow by 25% – Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi consolidate market share
IDC / Business Insider India / Flourish

In comparison, in the same period last year, worldwide smartphone shipments stood at 275 million, with the top five accounting for a little over 170 million shipments. One of the reasons behind the low shipments is the COVID-19 pandemic, which was at its peak in China – the hub of smartphone manufacturing.
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However, with companies in China having resumed operations, the supply chain issues have ironed out, allowing companies to meet consumer demands.

Top five further consolidate their positions



The market consolidation amongst the top five smartphone makers is visible – much of it has come at the cost of Huawei, which is reeling under US sanctions.
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“All three vendors (Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo) are increasing their focus in international markets where Huawei had grown its share in recent years. In the low- to mid-priced segment, it is these vendors that are gaining the most from Huawei's decline, while most of the high-end share is going to Apple and Samsung,” the IDC report noted.

Three smartphone makers capitalised the most on Huawei’s ouster from the top 5, namely – Xiaomi, Oppo and Apple, each with an increase of at least 50% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a year ago.

CompanyQ1 2021 shipments (in million)Q1 2020 shipments (in million)Year-on-year change
Samsung75.358.429%
Apple55.236.750%
Xiaomi48.629.565%
Oppo37.522.865%
Vivo34.924.841%
Others94.1103-9%
Total345.6275.226%

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Source: IDC

LG’s exit from the smartphone industry gives another opportunity for the existing players to make further gains.

“Most of LG's volume was in the Americas with North America accounting for over 50% of its volume and Latin America another 30%. Despite the vendor losing ground in recent years, they still had 9% of the North American market and 6% of Latin America,” the IDC report states.

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In terms of market share, Chinese smartphone maker Vivo entered the top 5 this quarter, edging out Huawei.

Smartphones are back in demand as shipments grow by 25% – Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi consolidate market share
<span></span>IDC / Business Insider India / Flourish

Oppo and Vivo are both owned by the same parent – BBK Electronics – holding a total of 20.9% of the market between themselves.

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