Report: Samsung to see first-ever year-over-year drop in smartphone shipments in 2015

Samsung Electronics is still likely going to wind up as the world's largest smartphone maker by volume this year, but according to research firm TrendForce, it likely will actually see total shipments decline on a total year-over-year basis for the first time.

Samsung Z3

Samsung Z3

"Samsung has lost much of its shares in the low-end to mid-range markets to Chinese competitors," TrendForce, a global research firm with analysts in Taipei, Shenzhen and Shanghai, said in a statement. "TrendForce therefore anticipates that the vendor will see its first ever decline of annual smartphone shipments in 2015, with a 1% year-on-year drop and around 323.5 million units shipped."

Samsung representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TrendForce thinks Samsung retained its title as the top smartphone brand by capturing up to 25 percent of the global shipments in the third quarter, but it now expects the projected shipments of Galaxy S6 and related Galaxy S series devices for 2015 will be 40 million units, lower than the firm had expected previously. Also, TrendForce predicts Samsung will ship around 10 million units of its new Galaxy Note 5 phablet by the end of the year.

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have sold well but TrendForce said that to surpass the incredible overall shipment result of iPhone 6 will be quite challenging for iPhone 6s as there is not much that sets apart the two devices appearance-wise. The firm thinks Apple, now the No. 2 smartphone player, will see its iPhone shipments grow 16 percent globally this year to around 223.7 million units.

TrendForce noted that numerous OEMs unveiled their next-generation flagship devices ahead of the iPhone 6s announcement in September, including Samsung's Galaxy Note 5, Huawei's Mate S and Sony Z5 series.

"Consequently, much of this year's growth momentum in the smartphone market was concentrated in the third quarter," the firm said, adding that it estimates that worldwide smartphone shipments in the third quarter grew 9.1 percent from the second quarter, totaling 332 million units. Moreover, TrendForce thinks Chinese vendors led in shipments with their combined volume at 150 million units, representing a 16.3 percent quarterly growth in the shipments of Chinese branded smartphones.

TrendForce smartphone analyst Avril Wu said that with the global economy projected to slow down in the second half of 2015, smartphone shipments are expected to remain weak until the middle of 2016. TrendForce's latest projection shows that the global smartphone shipments are set grow by 9.3 percent annually in 2015. In 2016, the annual shipment growth rate will drop further down to 7.7 percent, the firm predicted.

"Emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and India are now the major battlegrounds for vendors as developed markets have become fairly saturated," TrendForce said. "Increasing competition also means profits will fall in spite of steady shipments, and this will be the primary issue that most vendors will have to deal with in the near future."

Meanwhile, in other Samsung news, the company unveiled its second Tizen-based smartphone, the Z3, which follows the Z1, which was released in January. The Z3 sports entry-level to mid-range specifications, including a 5-inch 720p display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a body that is similar to Note 5, according to The Verge. The gadget also has a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor from Spreadtrum, 1 GB of RAM, a 2,600 mAh battery and HSPA support but not LTE. The phone will go on sale this month in India for around $130 (8,490 Indian Rupee), which could give Samsung an opportunity to expand the Tizen ecosystem in one of the world's largest smartphone markets that is still growing significantly.  

For more:
- see this TrendForce release
- see this Re/code article
- see this Samsung release
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article 

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