Global smartphone shipments grew in the first quarter of 2014, but Apple and Samsung saw their market share decline, according to new research released late Monday by Strategy Analytics.
Smartphone makers shipped 285 million units in the first quarter, an increase of 33 percent compared with the year-ago period, according to the research. However, that growth was uneven, with shipments in Asia making up for lagging shipments in North America.
"Smartphone growth was mixed on a regional basis during the quarter, with healthy demand in Asia counterbalanced by sluggish volumes across North America due to changes in the operator subsidy mix," Ken Hyers, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.
While Samsung maintained in the top spot with 89 million units shipped, the South Korean electronics giant saw its share of the global smartphone market slip slightly year over year from 32 percent to 31 percent -- its first decline since the fourth quarter of 2009, Strategy Analytics reported. "Samsung faces tough competition from Apple at the higher-end of the smartphone market and from Chinese brands like Huawei at the lower-end," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics
Meanwhile, Samsung rival Apple shipped 43.7 million iPhones worldwide to grab 15 percent of the market, a decline from the 17 percent it enjoyed in the year-ago period. "Apple remains strong in the premium smartphone segment, but a lack of presence in the entry-level category continues to cost it lost volumes in fast-growing emerging markets such as Latin America," Mawston said.
The combined market share of the two companies slipped from 50 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 47 percent in the most recent period thanks to increased competition from second-tier brands such as Huawei and Lenovo, both of which commanded nearly 5 percent of the global market.
"Huawei is expanding swiftly in Europe, while Lenovo continues to grow aggressively outside China into new regions such as Russia," said Linda Sui, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. "If the recent Lenovo takeover of Motorola gets approved by various governments in the coming months, this will eventually create an even larger competitive force that Samsung and Apple must contend with in the second half of this year."
Google announced in January it would sell its Motorola Mobility unit to the Chinese PC maker for $2.91 billion. While Lenovo gets the Motorola brand and its portfolio of devices, Google will retain control of a majority of the patents it originally obtained when it acquired Motorola in 2012 for $12.5 billion.