Once again Apple has captured the most share of operating profits generated from global smartphone sales in the first quarter this year.
It was reported late yesterday by market research firm Strategy Analytics that Apple's smartphone business recorded an operating profit of US$10.18 billion in the first quarter. It accounts for 83.4 percent of US$12.21 billion of the total operating profits made by global smartphone manufacturers, up from 79.8 percent at the same period a year ago.
In contrast, Samsung Electronics posted US$1.58 billion in operating profit in the first quarter, taking up 12.9 percent of the total.
Samsung's figure showed a sharp decrease from 21.9 percent in the first quarter a year ago. The company's operating profit ratio in the smartphone business came to 9.7 percent in the first quarter, a third of Apple's.
It is the first time for Samsung Electronics to see its smartphone business' operating profit fall short of 10 percent except for the third quarter last year when the company narrowly escaped running an operating deficit due to the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung Electronics' smartphone business operating profit rate has been continuing to fall, decreasing from 22.1 percent in 2013, 16 percent in 2014 and 11.1 percent in 2015, and then ever so slightly increased to 11.6 percent in 2016.
In addition, the market landscape among Chinese smartphone producers has changed. Huawei had higher sales with US$6.47 billion than OPPO with US$5.41 billion in the first quarter, but OPPO had higher operating profits with US$254 million than Huawei with US$226 million. It is the first time for OPPO, which has emerged as a new strong market player, surpassed Huawei, which has the third largest sales in the global market, in terms of operating profit, boosted by the success of its premium phones in the global market, including the R9s. Recently, Huawei has been also strengthening its high-end product lines.
Chinese smartphone makers lag far behind Apple and Samsung in terms of smartphone business operating profit rate in the first quarter – OPPO with 4.7 percent, Huawei with 3.5 percent and Vivo with 4.5 percent.
An official from the electronics industry said, "Only 10 out of 300 smartphone makers make profits. Apple is the sole leader in terms of profitability, while the market polarization has become more serious."
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