As my readers probably know, I have done annual forecast accuracy verdicts for Tomi Ahonen for quite some time. Reason for that? No less than this:
I have been and continue to be the most accurate forecaster of the mobile industry. I was the first to give a regional split of iPhone sales when it launched in 2007. A forecast that was incredibly accurate.
–Tomi Ahonen, March 09, 2015 
The iPhone regional split forecast Tomi talks about is far from “incredibly accurate” (e.g. Tomi forecasted U.S. market to account for maximum of 26% of iPhone sales and rest has to come from elsewhere. Reality was over 50%.)
I hope you now understand why these blog posts are needed.
At this point a small note about the ranking metrics: Tomi Ahonen has made it clear in the past that if you forecast sales of 148 million and reality turns out to be 35 million, I’m not off by 76%, I’m off by 318% (as my estimate was 4.18 times higher than the reality).  This is Tomi’s preferred metric. We may not agree but the man has to be judged by his own metrics, right?
(As Tomi has been proven to be unreliable source for mobile numbers, I will be using IDC reported numbers  for the evaluation.)
TOMIAHONEN FORECAST 2015 SMARTPHONES (VS 2014)
|RANK||BRAND||2015 UNITS||MARKET SHARE 2015||WAS 2014|
|Rest of Brands||365 M||24%|
TOTAL MARKET 2015 . 1,550 M smartphones (growth 19% from 2014)
Source TomiAhonen Consulting March 9, 2015 
I am confident within one point of market share for these brands this year.
–Tomi Ahonen, March 09, 2015 
Please keep this in mind. Confident within one point of market share. Here comes the actual IDC results:
Unit sales 324.8 million – Tomi off by 0%
Market share 22.7% – Tomi off by 1.7 points of percentage (miss)
The quick of it, is that Samsung gifts away 24 million customers to primarily LG and Sony but also Lenovo-Motorola and some other smartphone brands
I am sure now that Samsung will have a ‘mini Elop moment’ for the top end of the Galaxy line of its smartphones. There will be a rush to abandon the new 2015 Galaxy S6 and existing Galaxy users will flock to rival brands.
Samsung will see another year of alarming market share fall, this time from 24% to 21%. I expect by the end of the year (maybe even sooner) Samsung top management accept that the Galaxy redesign decisions (to abandon key competitive advantages) was a mistake and they will remedy that for 2016 (possibly even into Christmas sales period of 2015 which might see a surprise early launch of the Galaxy S7)
No surprise early launch of Galaxy S7. No customer gift-away to Sony, Lenovo-Motorola or LG. Only part where Tomi seems to be right are unit sales.
Unit sales 231.9 million – Tomi off by -7%
Market share 16.2% – Tomi off by 2.2 points of percentage (miss)
The quick of it, is that Samsung gifts away 24 million customers to primarily LG and Sony but also Lenovo-Motorola and some other smartphone brands (not Apple, those customers who cry over waterproofing, a replacable battery or microSD slot will not find solace in an iPhone).
Apple will lose market share again in 2015, that will be very modest. Total iPhone sales will again climb to a new record as will Apple revenues and profits.
So for example Apple, I see some analysts have expectations of iPhone sales 2015 in the 205 million unit level. I say 215. That is up 11.6% from 2014 when iPhones sold 192.7M units. So obviously Apple will have yet another banner year and will exceed many early expectations.
Tomi seems to have the unit sales growth wrong. iPhone grew unit sales by 39 million – over 50% more than the entire Samsung “giveaway” Tomi said won’t be raining to Apple. And also well over the 23 million increase Tomi had suggested.
Market share Tomi said he was confident within one point of percentage. However the margin-allowed 13-15% market share forecast did not hold.
What Tomi definitely got right was that iPhone sales made a new record every quarter. Definitely a banner year, unlike some other players we get to next:
Unit sales 74.0 million – Tomi off by 69%
Market share 5.2% – Tomi off by 2.8 points of percentage (miss)
I am confident Lenovo(Motorola) will finish the year easily in third place. The first real fight is for 4th place, and I expect that to be tight between Huawei, LG and Xiaomi.
But each of these three will finish in the 6% market share range of about 90M smartphones sold, who finishes 4th and who 6th will be the tight race till the end of December.
It was not Lenovo that took third place but Huawei. Huawei was supposed to sell 35 million smartphones LESS than Lenovo…
…and actually sold 34 million MORE than Lenovo!
Also Tomi’s “confident” 7%-9% market share forecast failed.
Unit sales 108 million – Tomi off by -17%
Market share 7.4% – Tomi off by 1.4 points of percentage (miss)
Huawei has signalled it wants to focus on the top end of the smartphone market (good timing for the Galaxy give-away) but that means that it won’t be able to grow as much as the market does, which is at the bottom.
Huawei has its flagship as the Ascend P8 which has been announced. It doesn’t do waterproofing nor have a removable battery. It does have a microSD slot. In specs its not the top of the rivals so I think its gains from Samsung will be modest.
Huawei grew faster than market, against Tomi’s forecast. Notable is that Tomi forecasted Huawei was not supposed to outgrow Lenovo and LG was supposed to be the one that performs better than Huawei. (LG? See below.)
Unit sales 59.7 million – Tomi Off by 51%
Market share 4.2% – Tomi off by 1.8 points of percentage (miss)
LG will have a banner year, Koreans are really competitive and fast movers. So LG will slot rather smoothly into the vacated Galaxy spot and take the lion’s share of the abandoned customers partly because LG has a global retail reach.
LG is the fastest and biggest global brand to react and pounce. They had the fortune of not annoucing their flagship at the Mobile World Congress last week in Barcelona. If they are smart – and I think they are – they will ensure their 2015 update to their flagship, expected to be called the G4, will offer at least part of the things Samsung now abandoned. So keeping the removable battery and microSD slot. And if LG are smart and fast – Koreans, they are fast – they could create a waterproof version of the G4 – or it might already have been in the design already
LG missed Tomi’s forecast by 51% (and was outside his confindent market share numbers). That is the “banner year” our most accurate forecaster proposed (and for more banner years check Sony from below).
That means the market share forecast of 5%-7% did not hold either.
Unit sales 71 million – Tomi off by 27%
Market share 4.9% – Tomi off by 1.1 points of percentage (miss)
Chinese domestic brands like Xiaomi will not conquer the world this year as some silly pundits suggest. Their international growth will be just as painful and slow as its been for earlier Chinese brands Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and TCL-Alcatel.
Xiaomi growth is stalling because it is approaching its limits in its home market of China, and growth abraod will be far slower. Their management has issued a target level of 100M smartphone sales but also warned that its an optimistic aggressive target and they might not hit that this year. They won’t.
In this case Tomi is off “just” 27% but he got the part of Xiaomi not hitting the 100M marker right.
Unit sales 29.4 million – Tomi off by 87%
Market share 2.0% – Tomi off by 2.0 points of percentage (miss)
But in any case Sony will steal customers from Galaxy partly because the Galaxy S6 is obviously a clone not of the iPhone but of the Xperia Z3.
Sony will pick up a windfall of new high-price premium customers this year from Samsung. How many, depends on two things – good availablility of Xperia Z4 handsets in the stores worldwide – and whether they kept the microSD slot. But Sony should have a banner year back at Xperia now.
Sony sold LESS than in 2014, lost market share and was left outside of the Top 10. That’s apparently the Samsung-donated “banner year”, the same way LG had their “banner year”. I get the feeling that Tomi does his forecasts based on his own feelings and preferences, not based on any existing numbers or market research.
Unit sales 50 million – Tomi off by ∞% ?
Market share 3.5% – Tomi off by ∞% ?
Oppo entered the Top 10 list by selling 50 million smartphones. Compare that to 27 million smartphones they shipped in 2014 and you have astonishing 85% growth! This – of course – was completely unexpected in Tomi’s forecast that did not have Oppo listed at all.
SMARTPHONE OS PLATFORMS (new sales) 2015
|OPERATING SYSTEM||REPORTED MARKET SHARE 2015 ||TOMI AHONEN FORECAST |
|Android||81.3%||81% – off by 0%|
|iOS||16.1%||14% – off by 16%|
|Windows||2%||3% – off by 50%|
|Others||0.6%||2% – off by 233%|
Lumia and Windows Phone continue to remain dead.
So the OS wars are already settled. Android won. As Apple has 14% for 2015, and if we give 3% to the dead OS walking Windows
As a side-note on Windows, Microsoft will end the pointless project of no life in it.
No, Microsoft did not kill Windows Mobile in 2015. I personally think they’ll keep it alive for year 2016 too.