Feature Article

January 14, 2016

Chinese Brands Made Up 40 Percent of Smartphone Shipments in 2015

As the smartphone market matures, it’s interesting to see how consumer interest shifts from traditionally dominant manufacturers to less-established brands. For a long time, the top two manufacturers have been Samsung and Apple—and that hasn’t changed—but it seems Chinese smartphone makers are making inroads worldwide to challenge this long-held dominance.

According to the latest report from TrendForce, global smartphone shipments as a whole grew 10.3 percent in 2015 year over year to reach 1.293 billion units. Of these, 539 million units came from Chinese vendors. In total, Chinese smartphone brands made up 40 percent of shipments, while Chinese smartphone makers took seven of the top 10 spots in the 2015 worldwide vendor ranking. Most remarkably, Huawei managed to edge out Lenovo for the first time to become the number three vendor globally and the top vendor in China.

In other words, 2015 was a landmark year for Chinese manufacturers which, until now, have had a tough time cracking the international market. It’s not altogether surprising, however, as a number of factors have been building to this point for a while. First and foremost, it’s not easier to make cheap, but relatively high-end smartphones.

Meanwhile, Huawei has been working hard to gain relevance outside of China for a while now and its Nexus 6P, released in September as one of two flagship Nexus models from Google, was a huge step forward for the company. It’s likely other Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi and BLU will make similar headway in the years ahead.

“Chinese vendors together shipped 539 million units in 2015, while Samsung and Apple together shipped a total of 547 million units. Collectively, Chinese vendors were in a close match against the top two global brands,” said TrendForce smartphone analyst Avril Wu. “In 2016, TrendForce expects Chinese vendors to take around 45% of the global market share, with their shipments exceeding the combined shipments of Samsung and Apple. This means that nearly one out of two smartphones sold by the top ten vendors this year will come from a Chinese brand.”

As for top vendor Samsung, the Korean company saw its global market share fall to 25 percent in 2015, down from 28 percent in 2014. Apple, on the other hand, managed to grow its market share to 17.5 percent worldwide, eating into Samsung’s share. Strong sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were the major factor here as Apple finally managed to tap into strong consumer interest for phones with larger screens.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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