Lenovo and LG could be the smartphone firms to watch in 2014

Lenovo Vibe Z hands on ces 2014 rear top

Analysts at Strategy Analytics have released new data showing the state of the global smartphone market. While it’s no surprise to see Samsung and Apple still at the top of the pile, what stands out is Lenovo’s considerably improved performance. Additionally, LG has made its own shipment figures public, and the combined data shows these two firms could be ones to watch over the coming year. 

Lenovo began 2013 with a 3.9 percent market share, a number which had raised to 4.7 percent by the time 2014 started. The smartphone shipment figures highlight the increase, growing from 8.4 million to 13.3 million. Lenovo’s market share is now identical to Huawei’s, putting the pair in joint third position behind Apple and Samsung.

LG doesn’t appear on Strategy Analytics’ chart, but according to the company itself, it shipped 12.3 million devices during the first quarter of the year, a massive 19 percent up from the first three months of 2013. We’ve said for a while that LG is heading in the right direction, and it has brought out some of our favorite smartphones of the past year. It looks like consumers agree.

Watch out Huawei, here comes LG and Lenovo

Lenovo and LG’s rise coincides with a slight fall in the two lead brands’ market share. Apple went from 17.5 percent at the beginning of 2013, to 15.3 percent globally this year. Samsung also fell to 31.2 percent from 32.4 percent. Shipments increased for the two companies though, with Samsung rising from 69 million to 89 million year-on-year, and Apple from 37 million to 43 million.

Things should only improve for LG and Lenovo too. The former is about to reveal its 2014 flagship Android phone, the G3, which has the potential to trump the Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2, and the HTC One M8’s in a spec sheet battle. Provided it meets all the regulatory challenges, Lenovo will become the proud owner of Motorola soon, something which should see its influence rapidly grow.

In the middle of all this is Huawei, but despite increasing shipments, its market share has remained the same this year as it was last year. If it doesn’t improve, it’s at risk of losing third position to Lenovo, and possibly LG too. It’s a strong opening to 2014 for the two, and although neither Samsung or Apple has much to worry about in the short term, things have a habit of changing in the tech world.

Updated on 04-29-2014 by Andy: We asked Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston on LG’s chances of making it into the smartphone big leagues. He told us there are about six other smartphone manufacturers, all with a similar slice of the pie, vying for the same position. These include Sony, and up-and-coming Chinese brand Xiaomi. Mawston says for LG – and any of its competitors – to break through, it’ll need a “global killer smartphone model,” with the same degree of success as the iPhone or Samsung’s top-of-the-range Galaxy phone. Will the LG G3 be that device?

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