Smartphone boom grinds to a halt as shipments fall for the first time

Is the smartphone boom over? Shipments of handsets shrank by 3% in the first quarter from a year earlier, new figures show. They fell to 334.6 million devices from 345 million in what experts feel is a sign the market has become saturated. It is the first time the industry has recorded a fall and follows Apple’s announcement earlier in the week that iPhone sales fell for the first time. Samsung remains the world’s top smartphone maker but saw shipments fall by 4.5 % to 79 million, according to the figures from Strategy Analytics.

China has reached saturation—its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers

Anshul Gupta, market research director

Apple Inc remained in second place but saw shipments fall 16% to 51.2 million from a year earlier on the back of what Strategy Analytics called “iPhone fatigue”. Apple’s market share dropped to 15.3% from 17.7% a year earlier. Business appears to have stagnated in the critical Chinese market where sales were falling, the researchers noted. Meanwhile, separate figures from researchers at IDM showed shipments up but only marginally. Despite the sales slowdown, Samsung has posted better-than-expected profits for the first quarter after an early release for its new Galaxy smartphones helped boost sales for high-end models.