Apple is number one smartphone vendor for 1st time in 4 years: IDC

Apple shipped the highest number of smartphones over the holiday season, according to IDC’s latest smartphone shipment results.

Apple have not held the number one position since the first quarter of 2012, says IDC, basing the report on smartphone shipments from October to December 2016.

Chayse Gorton, client device analyst for IDC New Zealand, believes there are three key reasons contributing to Apple’s fourth quarter performance in the market.

Apple overcame stock constraints observed after the release of the iPhone 7 models late in the fourth quarter, he says, in a statement.

"Even with some consumers expected to be holding off upgrading their smartphone until the release of the 10th anniversary edition iPhone, forecasted in late 2017, the demand for iPhone 7 has been stronger than anticipated”.

Chayse Gorton, IDC New Zealand

The top three vendors - Apple, Samsung, Huawei - made up close to 80 per cent of these shipments.

Despite looking somewhat similar to the iPhone 6s, updated specifications were enough to entice many consumers to upgrade their Apple smartphone, he adds. "It's hard to say with confidence that a single feature drove customers to upgrade, such as increased durability,” he states.

Rather, he suggests "it is likely a combination of improvements leading to consumers perceiving the iPhone 7 models as superior".

Publicity issues relating to competing vendors enticed a portion of consumers to switch to Apple, he states.

Samsung's battery cell issues in its recently released Note 7 smartphones, and the subsequent recall, not only led the devices to be excluded from IDC's tracker, but also to some consumers to question their loyalty to the vendor.

2016 was an exciting year, with the overall smartphone market growing 10 per cent year on year, and despite fourth quarter vendor rankings, Samsung holding off Apple to retain the number one position for the year. Overall for 2016, Samsung held 32 per cent share, Apple held 27 per cent share, and Huawei held 14 per cent share.

IDC reports vendors shipped a record high volume of 672,000 smartphones during October to December 2016, up from 614,000 smartphones shipped over the same period in in 2015.

The top three vendors made up close to 80 per cent of these shipments. Apple shipped 221,000 smartphones, Samsung fell to the number two position with 176,000 smartphone shipments, and Huawei closed the number three gap significantly reaching 143,000 smartphone shipments.

With Apple successfully winning a quarter for the first time in close to five years, and Huawei closing the gap in third place, it is safe to say the smartphone vendor battleground is shaping up for an interesting year, concludes Gorton.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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