About ten years ago in the year 2008-2009, modern smartphones started to get famous in a global sense. At that time, the Symbian Operating System (used by Nokia) and BlackBerry OS were most popular in the market. In Mid 2007, Apple introduced the first iPhone with iOS, and the first Android-operated commercial smartphone HTC Dream came on the market in September 2008. In mid-2009, another big player Samsung launched its first Android phone Samsung Galaxy.
At the end of 2009 (Q4), the global smartphone market share looked like this:
1. Nokia (Symbian OS) – Finland: 38.6%
2. BlackBerry (BlackBerry OS) – Canada: 19.9%
3. Apple (iOS) – USA: 16.1%
4. HTC (Android) – Taiwan: 4.5%
5. Samsung (Android) – South Korea: 3.3%
6. Others (Mixed OS) – various Countries: 17.6%
The interesting factor is, there is not a single Chinese brand in top 5 with 82.6% market share. Also, The top five brands are from 5 different countries. You also have four different operating systems in top 5. The business is well distributed among different brands, operating systems, and countries. The choices of people were very diverse as well.
Now, let’s see how it looks like after eight years at the end of 2017 (Q4):
1. Samsung (Android) – South Korea: 18.4%
2. Apple (iOS) – USA: 19.2%
3. Huawei (Android) China 10.2%
4. Xiaomi (Android) China: 7%
5. Oppo (Android) China: 6.8%
6. Others (Mostly Android) – Mostly China: 38.6%
Here we are Seeing that there are only two major operating systems in the market. From them, Android has about 80% market share. Chinese brands are getting into the leading position in the global market. Even companies like Samsung and Apple manufacture phones in their Chinese factory because of low tax, reasonable labor cost, and low material price. At the beginning of 2018, the sales of Apple and Samsung started to fall slowly, and the sales of Chinese Android phones are increasing rapidly. They were making phones for other companies. Now, they learned to make it for their own companies even better with all those experiences. In fact, there were 6 Chinese brands in top 10 manufacturers of 2017 (Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Lenovo, Vivo, and ZTE). They are collectively owning about half of the global smartphone market. It is an enormous success that came in such a small amount of time. However, in the last quarter of 2017, the global smartphone sales dropped for the first time by 4.5%.
What kind of conclusion can we draw from the above information?
The global smartphone business started to fall slowly.
The sales drop for the first time since the birth of smartphone is a clear indicator of that. It can be the global economy is falling all together except China as the more affordable Chinese phones are gaining rapid popularity. The flagship phones from Samsung, Apple, Google, LG, and co. are getting more and more expensive and the number of useful features is not increasing. As a result, their sales are decreasing. The good news is, conscious consuming often results in a truly higher quality product, sustainable economy, and lifestyle. But it may take some transitional time.
The global diversity in a core sense in this business is disappearing.
Two American companies Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) are leading the operating system solution by having almost 99% of the market share. So, China is taking over the hardware and material part (phone manufacturing), USA the software part. South Korea (Samsung and LG) is still in the game with their hardware, but they are producing them in China because of low cost. Taiwanese and Indian companies are also in the race with phone production. But the numbers are too insignificant at the moment.
So, a few Chinese brands are taking over the global hardware market, and just two corporations (Google & Apple) from the USA are in total control of the software part in smartphones. They can shape the global phone market in a positive way for all and we are among them who hopes for the best.