Record iPhone sales propel Apple to number one market position

The Cupertino-based firm sold more than 70 million devices in the fourth-quarter of 2019 to grab the top spot, surpassing Samsung and Huawei

FILE PHOTO: The new Apple iPhone Xs Max and iPhone X are seen on display at the Apple Store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 21, 2018.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Powered by strong sales of its strategically priced iPhone 11, Apple jumped two positions to become the world’s top smartphone vendor in the last quarter of 2019.

The Cupertino-based smartphone manufacturer sold 70.7 million devices in the last three months to the end of December, almost 4.8 million more than the same period in 2018, according to Strategy Analytics. Increased sale of its iPhone 11 series – rolled out in September last year – helped the US technology company grab almost 19 per cent market share, a 6.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter jump.

“Apple iPhone shipments rose almost 7 per cent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2019 …. the company’s best growth performance since 2015,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at the Boston-based market researcher. “The company is recovering, due to cheaper iPhone 11 pricing and healthier demand in Asia and North America.”

Apple is followed closely by South Korea's Samsung with an 18.4 per cent market share and China’s Huawei with 15 per cent. Apple retained its second position ranking in terms of global market share behind Samsung for more than three years, but it was surpassed by Huawei in April last year.

The company’s net profit increased 11.3 per cent year-on-year to $22.24 billion (Dh81.6bn) in the quarter ending December 28, as earnings from iPhone surged. The biggest-ever quarterly profit for the tech giant topped analyst estimates.

“The company is back in growth [mode] and it is firing on all cylinders .… Apple has been able to revive its iPhone growth among fierce competition,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at multi-regulated foreign exchange broker AvaTrade. “The holiday-quarter revenue report confirmed that its iPhone demand has rebounded,” he noted.

Overall, growth in global smartphone industry remained flat in the last quarter of 2019. Nearly 375 million devices were shipped globally, almost 1 million than the same period in 2018, according to Strategy Analytics.

Samsung shipped 68.8 million smartphones worldwide during the period, a 1 per cent annual drop.

“Samsung’s global market share stayed flat at 18.4 per cent, the same level as a year ago… [however,] it continues to perform relatively well across all price-bands, from the entry level to premium models,” said Mr Mawston.

Global shipments by Huawei, which is facing restrictions in the US market, plummeted by more than 7 per cent. It shipped only 56 million devices in final three months of 2019.

Despite strong 5G-enabled phone sales, “Huawei is slowing at home in China and facing tougher competition abroad” in key markets like Europe, Mr Mawston said.

Huawei sold 6.9 million 5G phones last year, 200,000 more than Samsung. Apple is expected to launch four 5G-enabled iPhones in September.

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