Samsung retained the top position with 31% (compared to 30% in 2018) while Huawei was second with 26% (up from 15% in 2018) and Apple brought up the rear, finishing third with 21%, a drop from 23% last year.
Counterpoint Research director Peter Richardson said: “The smartphone market declined mainly due to a lengthening replacement cycle and lack of innovation in new models.
"Some people are waiting for 5G services. Commercialisation of 5G is starting in Europe operators such as Swisscom and Sunrise in Switzerland. However, we think the impact on the market in 2019 will be modest.”
Eastern Europe saw a small lift in sales helped by growth in Russia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Poland. Apple’s share in Eastern Europe fell to 9% in 1Q2019 from 14% a year earlier.
But Huawei's share grew to 29% from 11% in 1Q2018. Counterpoint said the Eastern European market switched to Huawei, and its co-brand HONOR, because consumers sought budget-friendly phones.
In Western Europe, Counterpoint said Huawei consumed the share of smaller players, including local brands.
But despite Huawei’s showing, Samsung gained share thanks to acceptance of its refreshed Galaxy A series and S series smartphones. Huawei had particularly high sales in Germany, UK, and Italy.
What lies ahead may not be so rosy, however. "The recent action by the US to limit sales of certain hardware and software to Huawei, including Google Mobile Services for Android, will have a potentially significant impact on the competitive landscape in Europe during the coming quarters," Counterpoint commented.