Strategy Analytics said global smartphone shipments fell by 3 per cent year-on-year to 335 million units in the first quarter of 2016, marking the first time in history that this market has shrunk on an annual basis.
Figures from IDC were marginally less damning, although the company said its research suggested the market had almost flat-lined in the first quarter after registering the smallest year-on-year growth on record. The company said smartphone sales increased slightly to 334.9 million units worldwide in the first quarter of 2016 from the 334.3 million recorded a year ago.
Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, said smartphone growth "is slowing due to increasing penetration maturity in major markets like China and consumer caution about the future of the world economy."
IDC noted that the biggest change to the market was the addition to the top five of lesser-known Chinese brands OPPO and vivo, which pushed out previous fourth and fifth place players Lenovo and Xiaomi, respectively. It said Samsung remained in first place, followed by Apple and Huawei.
Strategy Analytics largely concurred with this ranking, but kept Xiaomi in fifth place with a 4 per share, behind fourth-placed OPPO with 5 per cent.
The first three months of the year have also not been good for the sale of smart mobile devices in large form factors, with tablets experiencing their worst quarter since 2012, according to Strategy Analytics.
The company said tablet shipments fell by 10 per cent year-on-year to 46.5 million units in the first quarter of 2016, with Apple iPad sales continuing to decline. However, Huawei achieved 66 per cent year-on-year growth and entered the top five ranking of global tablet vendors.
Peter King, research director at Strategy Analytics, noted that Apple iPad sales have now fallen for nine consecutive quarters, while the Apple iOS share has dropped to 22 per cent.
"Now, Android tablet shipments are declining as the [generic] white box vendors consolidate and branded vendors find it harder to compete on price in such a crowded market. The key for Apple and major Android and Windows vendors will be how aggressively they pursue the enterprise and prosumer markets with their 2-in-1 tablets, which is still a growing segment," King said.
The company estimates that these so-called white box vendors overtook Apple to take first place with a 13.3 per cent share of the market in the first quarter of 2016, followed by Apple with 10.3 per cent and then Samsung, Lenovo and Huawei.
IDC figures showed a 14.7 per cent decline year-on-year in worldwide tablet shipments to 39.6 million during the first quarter of 2016. While traditional slate tablets still accounted for 87.6 of the market, detachables are now showing the strongest growth. IDC still ranked Apple in top position, followed by Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Huawei.
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