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Global Smartphone Wholesale Revenue Passes $100 Billion in Q1 2021

by Linda Sui | May 20, 2021

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipment revenue rose +37% YoY in Q1 2021 to pass $100 billion in wholesale terms. The lengthened iPhone 12 super cycle, supply shortages and component price spikes, faster-than-expected 5G adoption, and industry consolidation all combined to deliver a much-needed positive quarter.

Apple and Samsung remain clear front runners in revenue terms but competition among the chasing pack is intense. Vivo surpassed Huawei and nudged up to the third place this quarter, for the first time ever. Vivo took 8% revenue share this quarter, up from 5% one year ago, followed by Oppo and Xiaomi who each captured 7% share of the global revenue.

Chart 1: Global Smartphone Wholesale Revenue Share by Vendor : %, Q1 2021

The global smartphone market is remarkable with 25% of revenue coming from super premium devices with wholesale prices above $900. Apple and Samsung dominate these hugely profitable segments.  Vivo has seen success and is ranked first in the $400 to $499 wholesale band, while OPPO led in the US$191 to $299 range in Q1 2021. Transsion maintained the leadership in entry tier (US$36 to $99) this quarter.

The super-premium category where the top flagships from Apple and Samsung have almost total control offers great brand halo benefits but is quite small at only 25 million units in Q1 2021. Opportunities for challengers to gain share are limited without huge investments over several decades and hundreds of millions of positive user experiences in addition to strongly competitive products.

Chart 2: Global Smartphone Wholesale Revenue Share by Price Tier: %, Q1 2021

Challenger brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and others will battle for volume and prominence in the mid and high tiers which collectively account for almost half of smartphone shipments. The Huawei case study (before politics intervened) presents an excellent roadmap on how to leverage the halo effect.  Offering flagship devices with top notch features and technologies in select models along with major sponsorships, brand ambassadors and technology partners is a winning long-term formula.

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