Apple led the premium smartphone segment globally by capturing more than half of the market (51 per cent) in 2018, a Counterpoint Research report said on Tuesday. This comes two months after the technology giant took the rare step of cutting its quarterly sales forecast, with Chief Executive Tim Cook blaming slowing iPhone sales in China, whose economy has been dragged down by uncertainty around US - China trade relations.
The Counterpoint Research report said OnePlus entered the top five brands (with 2 per cent share) in the premium smartphone segment for the first time ever last year.
In India, however, Samsung led the segment while OnePlus, Apple, Huawei, Vivo followed the South Korean giant in the said order.
OnePlus's performance came on the back of the OnePlus 6T. India, China and Western Europe drove four-fifths of its global shipments. The Chinese smartphone maker recorded its highest ever shipments in a single quarter (the fourth quarter of 2018) in India to lead the premium smartphone segment for three successive quarters and captured 36 per cent market share.
According to Counterpoint Research's "Market Monitor 2018" report, the segment grew 14 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in terms of sell-in and 18 per cent YoY in terms of sell-through.
"An indication of the increasing competition in the segment is highlighted by the fact that close to 40 OEMs now compete in the premium segment globally. Of these, the top five players account for almost 90 per cent of shipments. Premium segment contributed to one-fourth (22 per cent) of the global smartphone shipments in 2018," the market research firm said in a statement.
Huawei's strong performance was primarily driven by the success of the P20 and Mate 20 series, which focussed on camera, power and design. It also gained share in the premium segment in China and Europe.
OPPO's growth came from its home market China with the R15 and R17 series doing well.
The brand is actively targeting European countries with its mid-to-high-tier offerings. It is also targeting operators in Europe to launch its 5G portfolio outside China, along with new features in its flagship like 10x zoom.
Google entered the top five premium smartphone brands in Western Europe in 2018.