Apple overtakes Samsung as the world's largest phone maker

  • Written by Katie Silver
  • Business reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Apple now holds the lion's share of the global smartphone market, knocking Samsung off the top spot for the first time in 12 years.

The American phone giant accounted for more than a fifth of the phones shipped last year, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Samsung held 19.4% of the market share, followed by Chinese phone makers Xiaomi, OPPO and Transsion.

Smartphone sales have faltered as many people upgrade amid the pandemic.

IDC reports that nearly 1.2 billion smartphones were sold last year — down more than 3% from the previous year. It's the smallest amount sold in a decade, as many consumers tighten their wallets in the face of economic challenges and rising interest rates. Experts expect that the market will recover this year.

The rise of Apple

However, the IDC said Apple, which sold more than 234 million phones last year, was the “big winner.”

“Apple is not only the only company in the top three to show positive year-over-year growth, but it also holds the top spot annually for the first time ever,” said Nabila Popal of IDC.

“All this despite facing increasing regulatory challenges and renewed competition from Huawei in China, its largest market.”

Huawei recently made great strides in manufacturing its own chips, after it was banned from purchasing chips manufactured using American technology due to allegations that the company poses a national security risk to Washington.

Samsung backed down

It's disappointing news for Samsung, which – until now – was the world's largest maker of memory chips, smartphones and TVs.

It also faces competition from cheaper Android models including Transsion and Xiaomi, which are getting support from price-conscious consumers and emerging markets.

IDC also said the smartphone market is entering a “very interesting time,” with a growing number of Android service providers segmenting the market and customers increasingly prioritizing foldable phones and AI capabilities.

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