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IDC 2014 Smartphone Data: Apple Catches Up On Samsung; The Chinese Aren't Too Far Behind

IDC released its 4Q'14 smartphone data that showed a +28% y/y growth in shipments totaling 375m units during the quarter. For the full-year, global smartphone markets saw a total of 1.3b units shipped, an increase of +28% y/y. While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shipment growth of +46% was driven by the iPhone6, one notable trend worth mentioning is that Chinese smartphone OEMs have taken three of the top five places on the list with Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) taking 6.6% of the market share in Q4, followed by Huawei at 6.25% and Xiaomi at 4.4%. This underscores my long-term view that the Chinese OEMs will increasingly expand their global footprint to compete against the Koreans and the Japanese in the smartphone space and moving up to the premium segment to eventually compete against the high-end Samsung and AAPL's iPhone. The commoditization of premium handsets by the Chinese smartphone OEMs will be a key risk to AAPL this decade given that iPhone's competitive advantage in both software and hardware is…