As global smartphone sales to end-users hit 432 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016 — a seven per cent increase over the like period in 2015 — Apple finally leapfrogged past Samsung after eight sluggish quarters to secure the top spot, a report said on Wednesday. Riding on the success of iPhone 7 and Apple Watch, the Cupertino-based company recently announced an all-time record revenue of $78.4 billion for the first quarter of 2017 that ended on December 31. International sales accounted for 64 per cent of the quarter’s revenue. Overall, smartphone sales to end-users totalled nearly 1.5 billion units in 2016, an increase of five per cent from 2015, said the report from the market research firm Gartner.
“It has taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the top spot in global smartphone vendor ranking but the positions of the two leaders have never been so close, with only 256,000 units difference,” said Anshul Gupta, Research Director, Gartner, in a statement. Samsung’s smartphone sales declined eight per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year-on-year. “The withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 left a gap in its large-screen phone range. Samsung also faced growing competition in the mid tier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all grew their sales each quarter,” added Gupta.
Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3 per cent of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 7.3 percentage points year on year. Offering high-performance, front-facing cameras and fast charging smartphones led Oppo to maintain the top position in China during the fourth quarter of 2016. In the smartphone operating system market, Google’s Android extended its lead by capturing 82 per cent of the total market in the fourth quarter of 2016, the report noted.