Smartphones are just about everywhere these days, it seems, so it would be easy to think that the sales of these devices are slowing. Not so, says a new report from Juniper Research, which observed big smartphone sales through the third quarter. But some signs of potential slowdown ahead.
The Juniper Research study points out that 342.5 million smartphones shipped in 2015's third quarter, and that represented a loss of 8.4 percent against 2014's third quarter. Apple had a huge share, with 48 million units sold as compared to 39 million the same time last year. Apple's looking to China more often for growth, seeing $12 billion in revenue come from the region, and as such is putting plenty of investment therein. But reports of a slowdown in economic growth may leave Apple's Chinese ambitions sputtering for growth.
Samsung is the firm to watch here, with 84 million shipped. That’s up from the previous year. Profitability is likewise up, with a 37 percent increase on the year. This is also putting extra life in Samsung's semiconductor business, which is among its most profitable enterprises. Xiaomi, meanwhile, showed the power of the Chinese market with 18.4 million units sold, but the Chinese slowdown is hitting Xiaomi particularly hard. The slowdown gave another China-focused vendor, Huawei, the ability to be the best performer with 27.4 million total devices sold. Asus also saw gains, with small numbers but steady growth, and Sony plans to open a new factory in Thailand.
The news wasn't good for all; Microsoft is moving away from devices to platforms following a 54 percent revenue drop and 38 percent decline against last year's total sales. LG and BlackBerry likewise saw drops, with LG seeing its first ever year-to-year decline in the third quarter, and BlackBerry device sales now estimated at below the one million mark. Yet LG may have a saving grace in hand with a new Intel co-project, working on new mobile application processors.
Brands formerly top of the heap are facing extinction, and newcomers are gaining ground. Apple and Samsung continue to control a large portion of the market between the two firms, and most everyone else is little more than a niche player. It's enough to make some wonder if some of these brands will even be in the market by this time in 2016; with BlackBerry's sales all but collapsed—the worst since 2005—and Microsoft looking at other fields, it may be that the smartphone market won't have so many players in it.
As companies adapt to market conditions, new innovations will step up and try to claim market share. It may not be enough for some, but for the smartphone buyer, there will likely be many more exciting new options to come.