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Research firm expects first annual iPhone sales drop, in growing global market

New market research data suggests a five percent expansion of worldwide smartphone shipments in 2016, but analysts still expect Apple to post its first full calendar year with declining sales of the iPhone since the 2007 launch of the device.

Canalys believes that Apple's peak iPhone sale volumes are in the past, with a response to the iPhone 6s in international markets like China that the firm calls "lackluster." The analyst firm claims that wireless charging and waterproofing are examples of improvements Apple needs to make in order to compete with other vendors in expanding markets like China, the Philippines, and India.

However, the Western Europe and North American markets are expected to return to growth in the second half of 2016, buoyed by a new iPhone launch.

The data is similar to that of a report from the end of July, with a competing analyst firm seeing declines in both marketshare and shipment quantities to China markets. Apple is said to be losing ground to China-native Oppo and Vivo.

In the latest set of Apple quarterly results, revenue from Greater China came in at $8.85 billion, a decrease of 33 percent from the same quarter last year. Revenue decreased both from the decrease in sales in the quarter, as well as the depreciation of the Chinese yuan against the dollar.

"In the first three quarters of this fiscal year, our total revenue from Greater China was almost $40 billion," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the quarterly earnings call, regarding the Chinese marketplace. Cook noted that revenue was "up 55 percent from the same time frame just two years ago, while iPhone units were up 47 percent."

In the end of 2015, Apple was thought to capture 92 percent of the world's smartphone profits, with only 14.5 percent of the total sales. In the same report, Samsung claimed around 14 percent of global profits, and greatly exceeded Apple's sales numbers. The remaining vendors posted a loss or only eked out a small profit.