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Apple's iPhone outpaces overall smartphone market, Gartner finds

New data from market analyst firm Gartner saw Apple's holiday percent of sales slightly drop to 17.9 percent, with Samsung holding a slight edge at 18.2 percent in a contracting market fighting a consumer base reluctant to upgrade.

"Two main factors led to the fall in the fourth quarter of 2017," said Gartner research director Anshul Gupta. "First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality 'ultra-low-cost' smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones. Second, replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones. Moreover, while demand for high quality, 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales."

The biggest winner in the quarter was Xiaomi, with an increase in marketshare from 3.6 percent to 6.9 percent. The top five continue to draw from smaller manufacturers, with the trailing vendors seeing a market contraction in sales overall.

Noting that any supply to demand balance wasn't achieved for the iPhone X until early December, Gupta expects that the iPhone X will continue a strong showing in the smartphone market for the first calendar quarter of 2018.

Apple's average selling price for the holiday quarter was $796. For the same quarter, Samsung's average selling price is estimated to be $254. Both companies saw record heights for average selling price in the holiday quarter.

For the entirety of 2017, Gartner saw a slight contraction in Apple's marketshare from 14.4 percent in 2016 to 14 percent. Samsung held the lead, and saw a slight increase. Huawei, Oppo, Vivo all saw slight increases as well, but all trailed behind Apple.

While the data from Gartner is using a like-for-like comparison on a quarterly basis, the 2016 holiday quarter had one extra sales week than the 2017 holiday did. Calculated on a weekly basis, Apple's iPhone sales for the holiday quarter were actually higher than that of a year prior. However, given that all of the companies were impacted by the length of the reporting quarter, this doesn't change any of the relative percentages between manufacturers.

Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy S9 prior to the Mobile World Congress on Feb. 25. As with flagship launches from previous years, it is unlikely to make a big impact on the company's average selling price per device.