Samsung Electronics Co. saw its presence in the Chinese smartphone industry fall on-year in 2015, data showed Friday, as local players continued to garner larger slices of the market.
The South Korean tech giant, which stood as the No. 3 player in the Chinese market in the fourth quarter of 2014, was not included in the top-five bracket for the October-December period of last year, data compiled by industry tracker Strategy Analytics showed.
The result is significant as Samsung led the global smartphone market last year by selling 391 million units, far outpacing Apple's 231 million units, with their respective market shares reaching 22.2 percent and 16.1 percent.
Industry watchers said Samsung's weak performance in Asia's No. 1 economy is attributable to the strong performance of Chinese rivals.
Xiaomi led Chinese smartphone sales last year by posting a market share of 15.4 percent. Huawei Technologies Co., another China-based tech manufacturer, followed with a market share of 14.2 percent.
Apple, which remained in the sixth spot in 2014, stood as the No. 3 player with a market share of 11.3 percent in 2015. China-based Vivo Electronics Corp. and Oppo Electronics Corp. were also included in the top-five bracket.
The rise of Chinese companies has been one of the major drags on Samsung Electronics' mobile business not just in Beijing, but globally.
The company's IT and mobile business, which is in charge of smartphones, posted operating profits of 2.23 trillion won (US$1.84 billion) in the fourth quarter, slightly rising from last year's 1.96 trillion won. But the sector's operating profit continued to remain well below the 6.43 trillion won posted in the first quarter of 2014.
China Smartphone Shipments Hit a Record 438 Million Units in 2015
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, China smartphone shipments grew 3 percent annually to hit a record 438 million units in 2015. Xiaomi maintained first position and captured 15 percent smartphone marketshare in China last year.
China smartphone shipments declined 4 percent annually from 123.0 million units in Q4 2014 to 117.9 million in Q4 2015. China smartphone growth is slowing due to market saturation, inventory build and economic headwinds. However, for the full year, China smartphone shipments grew 3 percent annually from 423.6 million units in 2014 to a record 437.8 million in 2015.
Huawei shipped 17.9 million smartphones for the number one spot in China in Q4 2015, growing 50 percent annually from 11.9 million units in Q4 2014. Huawei has been growing rapidly in China due to extensive distribution channels and popular Android models like the Honor 7.
However, there are signs that Huawei’s growth is now starting to slow. Its annual growth rate of 50 percent declined sequentially from 73 percent in the prior quarter, as several major rivals like Apple and Xiaomi are fighting back. Xiaomi shipped 17.5 million smartphones and captured 15 percent marketshare in China in Q4 2015, up 11 percent annually. For the full year, Xiaomi shipped 67.5 million smartphones to claim the top position in 2015, just staying ahead of Huawei with 62.2 million units. Xiaomi offers several popular Android models in China, such as the Redmi 2A.
Apple had a strong quarter in China, shipping a record 15.5 million iPhones in Q4 2015. Apple solidified third position in China with 13 percent marketshare, up from 11 percent one year ago. Apple has worked hard to extend its retailer coverage across China, while Apple Music and other localized services have refreshed the iOS ecosystem for Chinese consumers.
Vivo held on to fourth position with 10 percent smartphone marketshare in China during Q4 2015, while its shipment growth rate expanded a healthy 20 percent annually. Another Chinese brand, OPPO, pushed into the top-five China rankings for the first time ever, with 10.8 million smartphones shipped and 9 percent marketshare in Q4 2015. The success of Vivo and OPPO lies in good hardware designs, robust product quality, strong retailer penetration, and rising brand awareness among mass-market consumers.