IDC: Smartphone shipments down 4.9% in Q4 2018, capping the worst year ever

According to IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.4 million units during the fourth quarter of 2018, down 4.9% year-on-year and the fifth consecutive quarter of decline, closing out the worst year ever for smartphone shipments.

  • Smartphone volumes declining 4.1% in 2018 with a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year.
  • China, which accounts for roughly 30% of the world’s smartphone consumption, had an even worse 2018 than the previous year with volumes down just over 10%.
  • Worldwide, the top 5 smartphone companies continue to get stronger and now account for 69% of smartphone volume, up from 63% a year ago.
  • Separately Apple has announced a 15% year-on-year drop in iPhone revenues in its most recent earnings report.

Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now. Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018. We believe several factors are at play here, including lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points.

 Ryan Reith, program vice president, IDC Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers

Apple’s Q1 (holiday) earnings report didn’t hold many surprises. The headline number is the 15% YoY drop in iPhone revenue, which Apple largely attributed to problems in the Chinese market.  On the bright side, many of its other devices did well, including iPads, wearables and iMacs. But the iPhone has been the big driver for Apple’s earning for the past decade, so investors will likely be curious to see how Apple plans to regain its momentum.

Yoram Wurmser, principal analyst, eMarketer