Top

Can Samsung Remain The Leader in Smartphone Shipments?

Samsung is the undisputed leader in terms of smartphone shipments. It has been the top smartphone vendor every year since 2012. While analyzing annual global performance is insightful, looking at quarterly changes and OEM dynamics from a regional point of view is even more revealing.

A detailed study reveals that Samsung has been receiving greater competition from multiple fronts recently, the most prominent being the major Chinese OEMs such as OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi. Xiaomi has been inching closer to Samsung, even displacing it as the top smartphone vendor globally towards the end of Q2 2021. While this is a major development, it does not necessarily indicate a permanent shift in OEM dynamics.

Samsung has indeed been the top global player annually for the past several years, but it has not always been the top player in each quarter of these years. For example, Samsung lost the top spot in five of the 26 quarters between Q1 2015 and Q2 2021. Usually, Samsung loses the top spot to Apple in Q4 due to the sales of the newly launched iPhone models. In Q2 2020 too, Huawei, together with Honor, which was included at the time, managed to ship more smartphones than Samsung. So, although Xiaomi inching closer to Samsung in Q2 2021 is an event that needs to be taken note of, it is not unprecedented.

 

 

That said, Xiaomi has been rising in multiple geographies and topped shipments in Asia and Europe in Q2 2021. While in Asia it has topped shipments often, this was the first time it was topping shipments in Europe.

Xiaomi’s rise also coincides with the decline of Huawei, another major Chinese OEM. Xiaomi, along with OPPO and OnePlus, took over large parts of Huawei’s affordable market, particularly in Europe, while also being among the primary OEMs, along with Samsung, to take over Huawei’s premium affordable segment there. Xiaomi became the market leader in some of the price-conscious markets within Europe, such as Russia.

In Southeast Asia, Xiaomi worked to manage component shortages and focused sufficiently on online channels to edge out OPPO, which had focused instead on marketing. While OPPO’s marketing efforts, including at Wimbledon and Euro 2020, helped it gain market share in Europe, a region relatively new for it, the marginal utility of added marketing effort in an established region such as Southeast Asia was minimal.

It is, nevertheless, also critical to understand the other event which led to this shift. While Xiaomi’s growth has not been accidental, its rise to the very top towards the end of Q2 2021 was also because of production difficulties faced by Samsung due to its factory in Vietnam becoming temporarily non-operational during a COVID-19-triggered lockdown. This came in a quarter where Samsung has historically seen weaker shipments (while Samsung’s shipment share in all Q1s since 2015 has been well over 20%, its shipment share in all Q2s since 2015 has usually been a little above or under 20%).

This, combined with Samsung’s strong vertical integration and availability of its models in a wide range of price bands in every major region, conveys that while we may see Xiaomi beating Samsung for the top spot in several regions regularly and globally in certain quarters (likely in Q2), and Apple beating Samsung for the top spot in Q4s, Samsung is likely to remain the top OEM globally on an annual basis in the near future.

Harmeet works in Counterpoint Research’s India team, where he focuses on camera modules, MEA mobile market and the AR/VR sector. He was previously a consultant, formulating digital transformation & M&A strategies for companies in sectors including TMT and electronic manufacturing. He also has over five years of analyst experience working for the Economist Group and in investment banking. Harmeet holds a finance-focused masters from Warwick Business School.

Apple Snack Pack

PREMIUM

Understanding iPhone

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited

Registration

In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.