Samsung Smartphone Shipments Declined For The First Time Last Quarter

Samsung smartphone shipments declined slightly in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the company’s earnings statement.

Although Samsung did not specify how many fewer smartphones it shipped, we estimate 80 million total unit shipments in the last quarter of 2013, 2 million fewer than in the third quarter, or a 3% decline. That still represents 26% growth over fourth quarter 2012, but compare that to the third quarter of 2013, when Samsung shipments grew 44% year-over-year.

Our estimate is based on market data and relatively negative sentiment in Samsung’s earnings statement, which said that “year-end inventory adjustments and the base effect from strong 3Q growth” were to blame for the decline in shipments.

Despite the small decline, Samsung is still the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. In the third quarter, it had a global shipments’ market share of around 32%. And, in brighter news, Samsung also reported that tablet shipments were “up sharply” in the fourth quarter.

Nonetheless, Samsung’s withering smartphone success has affected its overall business. The company posted its first decline in quarterly profit in two years. This trend is expected to continue through this year.

Last month, Samsung cut its forecast for annual smartphone shipments in 2014 from 360 million units to 330 million, or 82.5 million per quarter. One of the concerns is that the high-end smartphone market is saturated by Apple’s iPhone, and there is too much competition at the low-end.

To counterbalance its slowing smartphone business, Samsung is pushing ahead into new markets, such as wearable devices and bendable TVs.

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