The Apple Falls: iPhone Sees Its First Sales Decline

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Newton could've predicted it. iPhone sales fell 3.3 million units and 2.7 share points in the fourth quarter.

For the first time since Apple Computer introduced its revolutionary music-playing, multi-touch-screened cell phone in 2007, the mighty has fallen. Gartner's review of worldwide smartphone sales for Q4 2015 shows iPhone sales plunging 3.3 million units and 2.7 share points compared to the same quarter in 2014.

The two biggest sellers of Android phones picked up the share dropped by Apple. Samsung won the holiday season with sales of 83.4 million phones, a 10-million-unit gain that lifted it to a 20.7% share. Number three Huawei rode a sales boost of 11 million units to an 8% share.

Smartphone sales slowed a bit in Q4. Total sales of 403 million units was a 9.7% increase over the year-earlier period, the lowest growth rate posted for the category since 2008.

Though Samsung has clawed its way to the top, it will have to fight to stay there, according to Gartner. “It needs to introduce new flagship smartphones that can compete with iPhones and stop the churn to iOS devices,” said Gartner research director Anshul Gupta. 

Huawei's decision to focus its business on smartphones proved fruitful, Gartner observed. Its Q4 sales represented a 53% increase.

Though Samsung remained the smartphone leader for full-year 2015 with sales of 320 million units, it ceded 2.2 share points—most of them to Huawei.

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