Apple and Samsung are constantly competing for the status of “world’s largest smartphone manufacturer.” Cupertino has previously retained the title, but its competitor has reclaimed the top position after a quarter in which it accounted for more than a fifth of all global handset shipments.
According to the most recent Canalys survey, over 347 million smartphones were delivered in the first quarter of the year. This represents a significant 27 percent boost from the same timeframe in 2020.
Smartphone sales dropped by 20% at the peak of the pandemic last year, but the market has recovered this year thanks to the relaxation of lockout controls, vaccination rollouts, and renewed interest.
Samsung led the way with 76.5 million smartphones delivered between January and March, accounting for 22% of the market. The company recently announced that earnings in its mobile division increased by 66 percent during the period, owing to good sales of the Galaxy S21 line.
Meanwhile, Apple dropped to second position after shipping 52.4 million iPhones and capturing a 15% market share. The group made significant profits in China, where sales nearly doubled to $17.7 billion in the first year.
“We’ve been especially pleased by the customer response in China to the iPhone 12 family,” said CEO Tim Cook. “You have to remember that China entered the shutdown phase earlier in Q2 of last year than other countries. And so they were relatively more affected in that quarter, and that has to be taken into account as you look at the results.”
Xiaomi came in second, with 49 million shipments, a quarterly high for the company. Oppo’s exports increased by 60% to 37.6 million, while Vivo’s increased by 48% year on year to 36 million.
Many of the businesses benefited from Huawei’s weakening fortunes. Also subject to US-imposed restrictions that prohibit it from doing business with American companies, the Chinese conglomerate saw sales fall for the second quarter in a row in Q1 2021. With 18.6 million units delivered, it has now dropped to seventh place on the chart.
Although this was positive news for the market, the global chip shortage will have an immediate effect. “Supply of critical components, such as chipsets, has quickly become a major concern, impeding smartphone shipments in the coming quarters.” And it will force multinational brands to reconsider their regional strategies,” said Ben Stanton, Canalys Research Manager.
“Some brands, for example, have de-prioritized device shipments in India, amid the new COVID-19 wave, and instead are focusing efforts on recovering regions, such as Europe. And while the shortages persist, it will grant larger companies a unique advantage, as the global brands have more power to negotiate allocation. This will put further pressure on smaller brands and could force many to follow LG out of the door.”