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Apple Overtakes Samsung; a detailed look at IDC’s latest report

Apple leads global smartphone shipments in 2023, surpassing Samsung. Despite a YoY drop, Q4 shows recovery, signaling a market rebound.


According to a survey by market research firm IDC, Apple made a significant change in 2023 and became the leader in worldwide smartphone shipments, beating Samsung for the first time since 2010. Both Apple’s generous trade-in incentives and the rising demand for high-end iPhone models are to blame for this notable shift. 

IDC Highlights Tough Market Conditions

The fourth quarter of 2023 showed a notable 8.5% year-over-year rise, despite an overall 3.2% year-over-year fall in worldwide smartphone sales. This suggests that the smartphone market may recover in 2024. In terms of worldwide smartphone shipments, Xiaomi came in third, and other Chinese companies like Oppo and Transsion Holdings were also among the top five.

The figures, which come from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, show how tough the macroeconomic climate and high inventory levels are, which has led to the annual drop in smartphone shipments to 1.17 billion units. With a 20.1% market share and 234.6 million units shipped, Apple surpassed Samsung to take the top place. Samsung came in second with 226.6 million units and a 19.4% market share. This change demonstrates how customer tastes have shaped the smartphone market’s landscape and how dynamic it is.

Apple’s Success and Market Dynamics

With 103.1 million smartphones shipped globally, Oppo accounted for 8.8% of the market, while Transsion delivered 94.9 million handsets, or 8.1%, placing them fourth and fifth respectively in terms of smartphone shipments. With a dominant 24.7% market share in the final quarter of 2023, Apple led the market. The top four also included Vivo, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Transsion. As per IDC, this is the first time that Samsung hasn’t held the top rank in the smartphone market for 13 years, since 2010.

The expanding appeal of interest-free financing programs and the increasing demand for high-end devices are credited with contributing to Apple’s success. As the only company in the top three to show positive annual growth and take the top rank for the first time ever, Apple overcame regulatory obstacles and Huawei’s resurgent competition in its largest market, China. This change demonstrates Apple’s tenacity and flexibility in the face of a cutthroat and dynamic smartphone market.

2024 Anticipates Recovery and Diversification

Despite a decline in worldwide smartphone shipments in 2023, new releases and the changing Android player landscape are expected to spur a recovery in 2024. IDC’s Vice President of Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, Ryan Reith, observes a trend toward Android market diversification. In China, Huawei is becoming more popular, while rivals like OnePlus, Honor, and Google are releasing competitive smartphones in the upper mid-range market. The emergence of foldable phones and the increased focus on artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities portend competitive and dynamic tendencies in the future smartphone market.

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