Well, just minutes after WRAL TechWire posted a story about the latest smartphone statistics, Lenovo announced closing of its deal for Google Motorola Mobility. With Motorola sales included, Lenovo would have returned to the No. 3 spot. So here’s a revised story.

Notes a Lenovo spokesperson:

“Lenovo shipped 16.9 million, Motorola shipped 8.7 million devices, so combined Lenovo+Moto shipped 25.6 million, w 8.7% share.”

That’s better than Xiamoi at 17.3 million and a 5.3 market share.

Here’s the earlier story, so bear in mind those “Moto” phones make a difference – and perhaps even more so going forward.


Earlier Version of this post:

Lenovo just may have to put some more emphasis on its protect home market (China) and attack elsewhere. Maybe a deal to buy BlackBerry appears to make more sense in light of new statistics? And Lenovo already is setting up a new company to focus on smart devices in China, as we have reported.

Why? Look at the latest smartphone statistics from research firm IDC.

As Lenovo continues to try to get its $2.9 billion deal for Google Motorola Mobility closed, China-born Xiaomi (“millet,” translates Wikipedia) is soaring in China and globally (now No. 1, passing Samsung and Lenovo) with a lineup of cheap but increasingly popular smartphones. And for the first time Xiamoi is in the global top 5 for smartpone sales. 

New IDC data shows that Lenovo is dropping in the global battle. The world’s top PC maker is down to fourth in smartphone sales and soon could be fifth if current trends continue. But matters are much worse for No. 1 Samsung, which is losing market share and sales even as the smartphone market overall continues to grow at a rapid pace.

With smartphone shipments topping 300 million for the second consecutive quarter, Lenovo’s share improved to 5.2 percent from 4.7 percent with an increase of 38 percent in phones shipped to 16.9 million.

But Xiaomi soared past Lenovo into third place behind Samsung and Apple with a remarkable 211 percent growth to 17.3 million devices. Its market share climbed to 5.3 percent from 2.1 percent a year ago.

Lenovo also is virtually tied with LG, which is at 16.8 million phones shipped, up 40 percent, and at 5.1 percent market share compared to 4.6 percent in the same period last year.

So even when the Motorola Mobility deal does happen and if reports that Motorola sales are continuing to improve, another 1-2 percent market share aren’t going to help that much.

It appears Xiaomi has the momentum to target Apple at the No. 2 spot. Apple’s shipments climbed 16 percent to 39.3 million but its market share fell to 12 percent from 12.9 percent a year earlier.

No doubt new iPhone 6 models will hit fully in the fourth quarter, and Apple’s Tim Cook touted record sales in his company’s most recent quarter. But Xiamoi is charging hard.

Perhaps the biggest story, however, is the decline of Samsung. The Korea-based giant vowed changes in its latest earnings update. And the IDC numbers document Samsung’s woes as more people worldwide opted for smart but cheaper devices.

Samsung’s shipments fell 8.2 percent to 78.1 million and market share dropped to 23.8 percent from 32.5 percent. Only Samsung’s shipments declined among the top five.

Is more bad news ahead? The fact that emerging markets showed a 30 percent jump in growth vs. single digit increases in established markets is good news from the Samsung and Apple challengers, IDC noted. 

“Despite rumors of a slowing market, smartphone shipments continue to see record-setting volumes,” said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “We’ve finally reached a point where most developed markets are experiencing single-digit growth while emerging markets are still growing at more than 30% collectively. In these markets, smartphone price points are making mobile computing possible where we once expected feature phones to remain dominant. This is great news for overall volumes, but the challenge has now become how to make money on devices that are quickly becoming commodity products. Outside of Apple, many are struggling to do this.”

Here are vendor highlights as offered by IDC:

  • Samsung remained the clear leader in the worldwide smartphone market, but was the only company among the top five to see its shipment volume decline year over year. With continued competitive pressure from nearly every side coupled with cooling demand for its high-end devices, the company’s volumes have fallen from their previous highs at the start of the year. Although Samsung has long relied on its high-end devices, its mid-range and low-end models drove volume for the quarter and subsequently drove down ASPs.
  • Apple took the wraps off its highly anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and in the process posted its largest third-quarter volume ever. Although the company posted strong results of 10 million units sold during its initial launch weekend, what should not be overlooked is the sustained demand for its older iPhone 5S and 5C models, which comprised the bulk of its volume for the quarter.
  • Xiaomi jumped into the top 5 list for the first time at the number 3 position thanks to its focus on China and adjacent markets, which resulted in triple-digit year-over-year growth. Key to its success was the launch of its Mi4 smartphone in August, which was positioned as a high-end alternative to the status quo. What remains to be seen is how quickly the company can move beyond its home territories to drive volumes higher.
  • Lenovo tied* for fourth with LG, as its results improved on steady gains at home and abroad with the share of non-China shipments rising steadily to hit 20% in 3Q14, up from 9% a year ago. Sub-US$100 smartphones like the A369i and A316 drove volumes from emerging markets in Asia/Pacific and the Middle East and Africa. Domestically, it launched a number of 4G handsets, with some at lower price points.

LG’s strategy to court the market with low-cost smartphones has paid enough dividends to push its total volumes past the 15 million unit mark for the first time in the company’s history. Its F-and L-series smartphones have earned a warm reception, within both emerging and developed markets. At the same time, LG released its flagship G3 to maintain a presence in the high-end of the market, lifting the company’s overall LTE footprint.