Global smartphone shipments fell for the second year running in 2019, a first, the technology research firms Canalys and Counterpoint Research say, with a drop of 1% year-on-year in 2019 and a 4% fall in 2018.

However, for the final quarter of 2019, the performance was better, with Counterpoint saying the market grew 3% year-on-year indicating signs of a recovery in 2020. According to Canalys’ figures, the growth figure was smaller, at 1%.

Total smartphone shipments globally for 2019 stood at 1.37 billion units, according to Canalys, which put the year-on-year drop at 2% compared to the 1% figure advanced by Counterpoint.

Counterpoint research analyst Varun Mishra said: “There have been growing tensions among several countries that have impacted the smartphone market – for example, the US pressure on Huawei, and tensions between Japan and South Korea that led to uncertainties in the memory market.

“Supply chains have been upset, causing various companies to rethink their strategies and reduce dependence on single markets. [The year] 2020 will likely see efforts to further diversify investments across geographies to mitigate risks. The current coronavirus outbreak in China is the latest issue to threaten supply chains.”

smartphones cy2019

Apple was the top vendor globally in the final quarter of 2019, shipping 72.9 million units. Samsung (70 million units) and Huawei (56 million units) followed in that order.

For the whole year, Samsung took top spot with 296.5 million units shipped, followed by Huawei (238.5 million units) and Apple (196.2 million units).

Commenting on 5G adoption and the market outlook, Counterpoint research analyst Abhilash Kumar noted: “[The year] 2019 also saw the deployment and initial adoption of 5G, especially in the US, Europe, China, and South Korea.

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“With chipset players, operators and OEMs all preparing aggressively for 2020 and working towards bringing the prices of 5G down, the foundation for the 2020 growth has already been laid. The transition from 4G to 5G in the developed markets and the continued transition from 3G to 4G, feature phones to smartphones and upgrades will lead the smartphone market to grow in the coming year.”

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