We had an inkling that the fourth quarter smartphone sales crown was close: Last month, Strategy Analytics suggested it was a dead heat between Apple and Samsung. On Tuesday, research firm Gartner stepped in and declared Apple the winner with 74.8 million iPhone sales compared to an estimated 73 million for Samsung.
For the year, Gartner says 1.24 billion smartphones ended up in consumers hands. And while both Apple and Samsung sold more phones in 2014 than in the prior year, neither actually outpaced the overall market. We know that because Gartner’s data says both lost market share in 2014:
So who were the winners for the year?
Lenovo and Huawei both made gains in overall market share around the world, with the former surely aided from its purchase of Motorola. With Lenovo now selling Motorola smartphones in China for the first time in years — with a compelling blend of both hardware and software — I’d expect 2015 to look rosy for Lenovo as well. Of course, the company is competing with another China-based manufacturer in Xiaomi, which was actually fifth overall in the final three months of 2014. Xiaomi’s quarterly smartphone sales rose to 18.6 million, compared to 5.6 million in the 2013 holiday season.
But the real winners were those namely companies lumped together in the “others” category.
According to Gartner’s data, this group moved from 38 percent smartphone market share in 2013 to 43.3 percent last year. This speaks to the many Google hardware partners who are offering low-cost hardware with Android software in various parts of the world; a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future.