Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 403 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, a 9.7 percent increase over the same period in 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, this was their slowest growth rate since 2008. In 2015 as a whole, smartphone sales reached 1.4 billion units, an increase of 14.4 percent from 2014. While Gartner noted that Apple suffered its first decline in sales of smartphones in Q4, overall Apple eked out a gain of 0.5 percent which roughly translates to selling 34.4 million more iPhones in 2015 over the previous year.
Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner noted in the report that "Low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, and strong demand for premium smartphones continued to be the driving factors.
One interesting trend that Mr. Gupta pointed out was that 85 percent of users in the emerging Asia/Pacific market are replacing their current midrange phone with the same category of phone. This is likely one of the reasons for Apple introducing the new 4" iPhone 5se in a year that they're likely to enter the Indian market with their first Apple Stores.
Top Smartphone Vendor Sales Q4 2015
Top Smartphone Vendor Sales for all of 2015
Mr. Gupta further noted in the report that "For Samsung to stop falling sales of premium smartphones, it needs to introduce new flagship smartphones that can compete with iPhones and stop the churn to iOS devices."
Lastly, the Gartner report pointed to "currency devaluations against the U.S. dollar in many emerging markets are putting further margin pressure on many vendors that import devices. Current market conditions are prompting some vendors to consider setting up manufacturing operations in India and Indonesia to avoid being hit by future unfavorable currency devaluations and high import taxes." To a certain degree, this would support the rumors of Foxconn considering an iPhone plant in India.
Apple's CEO Tim Cook spent an extraordinary amount of time in his official opening statement during Apple's financial conference call in January covering the currency crisis.