Research firm IDC turned into Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons yesterday, declaring that 2018 was “the worst year ever for smartphone shipments”. That’s a strange thing to say: clearly it wasn’t the worst year ever in terms of the volume of smartphones sold: 1.4bn were shipped in 2018. What IDC was referring to was the percentage decrease in shipments though: down 4.1% year-on-year.

“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said IDC’s Ryan Reith. “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.”

Samsung remains top dog, shipping 292.3m smartphones in 2018 – down 8% year-on-year. Apple was second with 208.8m iPhone shipments (down 3.2%) with Chinese firms Huawei (206m shipments, up 33.6%) and Xiaomi (122.6m, up 32.2%) enjoying a storming 2018. It’s thus highly likely that Huawei will overtake Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker in the world this year – and it may not be long until it’s challenging Samsung for top spot.

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