Want to know who's the top dog for 2017? Two of the most trusted names in market research, the International Data Corporation (IDC) and Strategy Analytics have put forth their official lists of the Top 5 Smartphone Vendors in the world based on total global shipments. And when two independent research groups post the exact same list, then you know it must be true.
The IDC and Strategy Analytics are separate firms with their own methodologies, but the data they arrived at was the same. Let's take a look at the Top 5 Smartphone Vendors in the world.
5. Xiaomi – 92.4 million shipments
Xiaomi saw a rough patch sometime a couple of years back as they were perceived by their home market and the rest of the world as a cheap, budget brand that only those who could not afford would buy. It's a terrible branding to have if you are looking to get into the high-return segment of premium products, but Xiaomi has managed to turn this around and weathered the slowdown of the Chinese growth economy and come back strong as the fifth largest producer in the world.
4. OPPO – 111.8 million shipments
OPPO on the other hand has outgrown all of its local rivals, except for one, based on their strategy of aggressively opening retail stores in markets where smartphone penetration was low. OPPO's focus on offline retail paid off and they overtook Xiaomi, which focused on online distribution and competitive discount pricing.
3. HUAWEI – 153.1 million shipments
HUAWEI has established itself as one of the premiere brands in the smartphone industry, and rose to become a global household name on the strength of their technological innovations coupled with smart strategic marketing. Backed by a corporate culture with a very strong work ethic and a customer-first attitude, HUAWEI has overtaken other rivals and has its eyes set on the top.
2. Apple – 215.8 million shipments
Apple needs no introduction as the company that revolutionized the smartphone industry with the iPhone back in 2007. Apple is the most profitable smartphone company in the world, built almost exclusively on the profit margins of the ubiquitous iPhone line.
1. Samsung – 317.3 million shipments
Samsung retains the top spot as being the single largest smartphone maker in the world, selling more phones than anybody else and offering the whole plethora of devices to suit any and all needs and niches. Samsung took over the reigns as the former number one Nokia, fell out of favor and largely disappeared around 2012. Today, Samsung continued to iterate and release more phone models across all segments of the market than any other company.
It's interesting to note that, although Samsung is the best-selling brand in the world, Apple far outstrips it in terms of profitability, having posted a USD 61.6 billion revenue in 2017 compared to Samsung's USD 23.4 billion. There's something to be said about skimming off the profit margins at the very top of the market, and Apple has the single most expensive mass market phone in the world with the iPhone X, and it has continued this tradition from the early days of the iPhone.
Xiaomi posted a huge year-on-year increase in 2017, making back the ground they lost in 2015 and 2016, but it wasn't enough to catch up to rivals OPPO and HUAWEI. The latter two have been posting consistent numbers and growth for the past few years and HUAWEI in particular is keen on overtaking Apple, and is finally within striking distance of the Cupertino-based company.
How these brands will continue to compete in 2018 and beyond will be interesting to see and we'll cover the news as it happens.