When it comes to smartphones, Samsung has been on a tear since the fourth quarter of 2009, growing its global market share since then to become the top seller. Amid smartphone saturation in some regions, however, the company’s growth has stalled: According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s global smartphone market share has fallen for the first time in four years.
The research firm shared its data on Tuesday morning, saying that 285 million smartphones shipped around the world in the first quarter of 2014. That’s 33 percent more than this time a year ago. But Samsung and Apple(s aapl), the top two vendors, both lost market share as Lenovo, Huawei and others outsold the market growth rate and took market share away from the leaders.
For the first quarter of 2014, Samsung’s share dropped from the 32.4 percent it represented a year ago to 31.2 percent. Apple’s market share dropped from 17.5 percent to 15.3 percent in the same 12-month period. Both companies sold more phones than the prior year quarter, but the overall market has grown faster. Lenovo’s quarterly sales jumped from 8.4 million phones to 13.3 million in the last year, for example, helping boost its global market share. That trend will likely continue after Lenovo’s purchase of Motorola is finalized, as it will give the company a foothold in new regions.
Does this mean the reign of Samsung and Apple are over? Not anytime soon, of course. It does mean that Samsung can’t rely on its annual Galaxy refresh to simply keep growing market share, though. The company will need to dig deeper to provide more innovation — or better value for the money — to stand out from the growing pack of smartphone competitors.