Analysts: Huawei, Lenovo and LG dig into Samsung and Apple's market share

It would take a major reversal of fortunes for Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to lose their places as the No. 1 and 2 smartphone market vendors, respectively, but according to industry analysts competitors Huawei, Lenovo and LG Electronics are grabbing more market share and are starting to loosen the grip the leaders have on the market.

Analysts as Strategy Analytics reported that the combined global smartphone market share of Samsung and Apple slipped to 47 percent in the first quarter from 50 percent in the first quarter of 2013. "There is more competition than ever coming from the second-tier smartphone brands," they noted.

Research firm IDC noted that Huawei, Lenovo and LG made up the rest of the top five smartphone vendors in the market, and Strategy Analytics had Huawei and Lenovo as No. 3 and No. 4, respectively (it did not include results for LG, which reported Tuesday that it shipped 12.3 million smartphones in the first quarter).

Samsung, which does not report its quarterly smartphone shipments, likely shipped somewhere between 88.5 million and 89 million smartphones in the quarter, losing about a point of smartphone market share year-over-year, the research firms said, down to around 31 percent. Strategy Analytics said this was Samsung's first annual market share loss in the smartphone category since the fourth quarter of 2009.

Apple maintained the No. 2 spot with 43.7 million iPhone shipments in the first quarter, but the research firms said Apple's market share slipped to around 15.3 percent. "The company saw double-digit growth in Japan as well as across multiple developing markets, including Brazil, China, India and Indonesia," IDC said. "Still, this made for the lowest year-over-year improvement among the leading vendors. What remains to be seen is when--not if--Apple's rumored large-screen models will arrive on the market, filling a gap in the company's portfolio that has been exploited by the competition."

However, it was Huawei and its smaller brethren that gained ground in the quarter.

"Huawei is expanding swiftly in Europe, while Lenovo continues to grow aggressively outside China into new regions such as Russia," Strategy Analytics noted. "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."

IDC noted Huawei's aim for 2014 is to ship 80 million smartphones worldwide, "and contributing to that is the company's increasing emphasis on large-screen smartphones," such as the Ascend Mate 2 4G, which features a 6.1-inch screen, one of the largest screen sizes in the industry.

Lenovo posted the largest year-over-year increase among the leading vendors, IDC found, with continued success in Asia-Pacific and a nominal presence elsewhere. But IDC noted that will change once Lenovo's $2.91 billion purchase of Motorola from Google is approved, which should give Lenovo a greater presence in North America and Western Europe.

LG's shipments "were enough to stave off multiple Chinese vendors, including Coolpad, Xiaomi, and ZTE. Driving the company's success was its emphasis on LTE-powered smartphones, including the G2, Nexus 5, and the G Flex," IDC said. At the same time, LG saw the continued success of its mid-range F-series and entry-level L-series devices, the research firm found.

For more:
- see this IDC release
- see this Strategy Analytics post
- see this VentureBeat article 
- see this TheNextWeb article

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