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One-third of phones worldwide are now sold SIM-free, Gartner reports today in its latest quarterly smartphone market numbers. The move to SIM-free online sales has benefited Chinese upstarts and left former favourites like Sony and HTC in the dust, analyst Anshul Gupta told us.
“They haven’t changed at all, while the market has changed drastically. Selling online, you really need to pass on the cost saving to customers as a lower price - you can’t pocket everything.”
Three of the top five vendors are now Chinese, and those three account for 17 per cent of worldwide phone sales. For Q1 this year, Gartner pegs Huawei at third with 28.8 million shipments (8.3 per cent share), up from 18.1 million in Q1 2015, Dongguan, Guangdong-based Oppo with 16.1 million (4.6 per cent share) up from 6.5 million a year ago, and Xiaomi close behind with 15 million (4.3 per cent share) up from 14.7 million a year ago.
That’s broadly in line with Strategy Analytics' figures, which saw Oppo grab fourth spot with with 15.5 million units shipped, almost double the amount it shipped in the same period in 2015. Huawei retains third place with 28.3 million shipped up from 17.3 million in Q1 2015. Xiaomi shipped 14.8 million units to be the fifth largest vendor.
Gupta paid credit to the Chinese for allaying fears of poor aftersales service.
"I don’t see that even Samsung provides software updates as soon as they’re available. Some Chinese vendors like Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates," he told us.