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article image1.4 billion smartphones were shipped in 2015

By James Walker     Jan 28, 2016 in Technology
1.4 billion smartphones were sold during 2015 according to market analysts IDC. Smartphone sales may be slowing but overall volumes are still very high. Samsung remains the largest manufacturer, followed by Apple and Huawei.
2015 saw more phone shipments than ever before, increasing 10.1 percent over 2014. Despite flagging sales, Samsung still holds position as the world's largest manufacturer with 22.7 percent of the total market.
Apple follows up in second place with a 16.2 percent share. The company managed year-on-year growth of 20.2 percent though, almost ten times stronger than Samsung's 2.1 percent.
Coming in third is Chinese manufacturer Huawei with a massive 44.3 percent year-on-year sales increase. It sold 106.6 million handsets in 2015, following Apple, Samsung and Nokia to become the fourth smartphone company in history to sell over 100 million devices in a year.
Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said: "Usually the conversation in the smartphone market revolves around Samsung and Apple, but Huawei's strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand. While there is a lot of uncertainty around the economic slowdown in China, Huawei is one of the few brands from China that has successfully diversified worldwide, with almost half of its shipments going outside of China. Huawei is poised to be in a good position to hold onto a strong number 3 over the next year."
Huawei has traditionally built budget-oriented devices for consumers in its home market. Recently, it has begun a major expansion program though, building new premium smartphones and launching an official retail presence in Europe and the U.S. The strategy is evidently paying off at the expense of established players like leader Samsung.
IDC described the pressure on Samsung as a "multi-front battle" in which Apple and Chinese manufacturers both play a part. Sales remain up over 2014 but only just at 2.1 percent, indicating the company could slip to second place during 2016.
The industry as a whole hit record low expansion during 2015. Market saturation, a decline in ground-breaking device launches and volatile currencies all restricted sales success as people bought fewer phones and looked more fondly on the low and mid-range.
Some regions fared better than others with sales up 76 percent in developing markets Brazil, Russia, India and China. According to IDC, "heavy saturation" was experienced in more mature markets including the U.S. and Europe though, driving manufacturers to launch more low-cost handsets incorporating high-end looks and hardware.
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