S. Korea’s smartphone exports plunge to 16-year low as Chinese rivals boost presence

24, Jan. 2019

SEOUL, NNA – South Korea’s smartphone exports tumbled to a 16-year low in 2018 as Chinese rivals boosted their presence in the global market.

The country’s total annual exports of mobile handsets plunged 23.2 percent from a year earlier to $14.61 billion, data from the Ministry of Science and ICT showed. That’s down more than half from the peak of over $30 billion in 2015.

The value lags far behind South Korea’s two largest export items in the information and communication technology field – semiconductors at $128.2 billion and liquid crystal displays at $27.71 billion, according to the data.

The drop in smartphone exports is attributable to harsh competition with Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co. in the global market as well as an already high rate of overseas production by South Korean mobile handset makers — 91.0 percent in the first quarter of 2018, according to data from Strategy Analytics, a U.S. research firm, cited by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Samsung Electronics Co. retained the top share of the global market at 20.1 percent in the July-September quarter, but it still represented a decline of 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the research firm’s data. LG Electronics Inc. held a 2.9 percent share in the same period, down 0.6 point.

Huawei meanwhile boosted its share from 9.9 percent to 14.4 percent to rank second, outstripping Apple Inc.’s 13 percent.

Xiaomi and Oppo, two other Chinese brands, are also catching up with Apple, raising their shares to 9.2 percent and 8.7 percent respectively in the third quarter.

“Samsung is likely to lose the top share as early as 2020, and South Korean makers’ presence will further deteriorate in the world,” Lee Jong Wook, senior analyst with Samsung Securities Co., told NNA in a phone interview.