Market Monitor : Handset & Smartphone Markets – Q4 2014

Counterpoint Research team of Analysts have completed preliminary sizing of the global handset and smartphone market as few OEMs have already released their Q4 2014 (Oct-Dec) performances. Following are our preliminary market share and rankings according to our quarterly Market Monitor service.

The key highlights of the quarterly performances so far include:


  • Global mobile phone shipments reached a record December quarter crossing half a billion units for the first time, growing 7% YoY
  • Smartphone shipments also climbed to an all-time record of 369 million units  growing 22% YoY
  • For the full year, global mobile phone shipments reached almost 1.85 billion units out of which smartphones contributed a significant 1.3 billion units
  • Smartphone now represent 73% of all mobile phones shipped during the quarter (64% in Q4 2013) as feature phone demand continued to shrink fast globally.
  • Consumers can buy a new branded 3G smartphone now for less than $40 and a 4G smartphone for almost $100 and will slide down further by this year’s end
  • Chinese brands have rose significantly on smartphone experience curve in terms of hardware design as well as software and UI integration and the top ten global Chinese brands captured roughly a third of the global smartphone market.
  • Apple smartphone shipments rose to a record high as it became the largest smartphone brand on the planet and second largest mobile phone supplier globally for the first time ever surpassing Samsung & Microsoft (Nokia) respectively
  • Lenovo (Motorola includes) became the third largest smartphone and fourth largest mobile phone supplier in Q4 2014 surpassing Huawei and Xiaomi
  • The top eight smartphone brands together captured almost two-third of the global smartphone market
  • However, this lead by Apple in smartphone segment is temporary but it portrays the growing traction iPhone portfolio has and challenging times for Samsung to grow beyond the peak

Exhibit 1: Overall Mobile Handsets* 

Global Handset Summary Q4 2014

Exhibit 2: Smartphones*

Global Smartphone Summary Q4 2014

*preliminary estimates 


  • Samsung shipped 95 million mobile phones down 19% annually as the smartphone shipments declined to 73.8 million units almost 15% annually, ceding smartphone segment lead to Apple.
  • However, Samsung ended the year with a massive 405 million mobile phones shipments out of which almost 317 million were smartphones and led the overall market
  • Samsung’s sub-$250 wholesale priced smartphones contributed to roughly half of the smartphone shipments in 2014, with successful ramp of for models such as Galaxy Star, Core and Grand variants
  • However premium ($450+) smartphone shipments grew roughly 5% with S5 & Note 4 shipments but still below the overall segment growth which was dominated by Apple
  • In terms of regional performance, Samsung’s position in markets such as USA, India and South East Asia remained on par with last year but China, Latin America and Europe the position weakened annually
  • Moving into 2015, we recommend Samsung to significantly cut down on hundreds of SKUs to a few which will immensely help Samsung focus on its products design, experience and generate greater scale.


  • Apple posted an all-time record for both revenue and sales for iPhone with shipments at 74.5Mn during the quarter, a Y-o-Y increase of 46.1%.
  • As a result it has become the No. 1 smartphone vendor and No. 2 Handset vendor first time ever in a single quarter.
  • Apple’s overall handset market climbed to 14.8% and the smartphone market share climbed to 20.2% during 4Q 2014
  • Apple has raised the bar so high with record iPhone sales, ASP and profits that not even the next five brands combined could achieve this.
  • iPhone 6 & 6 Plus dual flagship move with elimination of 32GB SKU has allowed Apple’s iPhone ASP to shoot up to an all-time-high of $687
  • Regionally, Apple recorded tremendous growth in key markets such as China, India, Brazil, Korea, Japan with leading position in USA.

Lenovo (Motorola)

  • Lenovo completed its acquisition of Motorola and the combined shipments during the quarter is estimated close to 25 million units
  • With Motorola, Lenovo now has reach beyond its home market especially in Americas. However, Europe is still a weak spot for the chinese vendor
  • It will be interesting to see how Lenovo coexists in markets where Motorola has entered over the last year so after its revival
  • Basically, Lenovo is stronger in low- to- mid tier whereas Motorola is more in mid- to high-tier and this should naturally help Lenovo extend portfolio across all price-points and geos
  • It will be an interesting year as Chinese brands look for growth beyond home markets and closely compete with each other and for the three-to-five spots in our rankings


  • Xiaomi maintained its position among top 5 smartphone vendors in the world as the vendor’s smartphone shipments increased by 167.2% annually.
  • Xiaomi market share in Global smartphone market for 4Q 2014 stood at 4.6%.
  • Furthermore, Xiaomi is now selling its smartphones to more than seven countries outside China and achieved a notable feat of crossing Million sales within five months of launch in India.
  • During the quarter it also has invested in expansion of ecosystem with investments in Home Appliances (Midea) and Wearables (Misfit). Going forward we believe that it will continue to invest in startups that lays a strong foundation for its ecosystem.


  • Huawei surpassed Xiaomi to be  the 4th largest smartphone vendor with market share of 6.6% during 4Q 2014
  • Smartphone shipments grew by 41.5% Y-o-Y whereas the overall shipments grew by 32.8% Y-o-Y.
  • The successful expansion of Honor brand is yielding results for Huawei with a presence in more than 60 countries around the globe.
  • Honor brand has managed to gain significant share in mid to high end smartphone segment, a segment which was traditionally a weak spot for Huawei
  • Going forward it will continue to leverage the momentum by launching more flagships in various geographies along with its online only business model in some of the regions
Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 18 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

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