Smartphone sales grow as Chinese brands bag bigger global share

by Steve Blum • , ,

Chinese smartphones loom larger.

Trying to track shipment figures for any global consumer electronics product can be a tricky business – piecing together the puzzle requires access to many sources with many agendas – but that said, market research company TrendForce has spotted a significant trend: collectively, Chinese smartphone manufacturers grabbed a huge share of the worldwide market in 2014.

According to TrendForce, manufacturers shipped 1.2 billion smartphones last year, with Chinese companies accounting for 450 million, or 39% of the global total.

Lenovo (with the Motorola brand rolled in) was 2014’s third ranking smartphone maker, with a 7.9% market share. That’s up from 4.9% in 2013. Huawei came fifth at 5.9%, barely behind fourth-ranked LG at 6.0%.

The top places haven’t changed, though. It’s still Samsung first and Apple second. Even though it’s still overwhelming at 28%, Samsung share slipped from 33% in 2013. Apple’s held more or less even – 16.4% in 2014 against 16.6% in 2013. It’s not like either one is fading though. Samsung shipped 25 million more units than in the previous year; Apple sold 37 million more.

Both Huawei and Lenovo made a big push at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and ZTE boosted its presence at the 2015 CES. Although home market strength puts Chinese brands in the top ten, exports are also growing.

The 2014 rankings are also notable for the names that are missing. Nokia and Blackberry fell into the vast Other category, their places taken by Xiaomi and TCL. Another way of looking at it: Apple aside, the top ten smartphone brands are Android-based (or nearly so, there’s a bit of dabbling in alternatives like Tizen and Firefox). Windows and Blackberry are off the radar.