APPLE vs. SAMSUNG: Who's The King Of Smartphones?

samsung galaxy nexus next to iphone 4

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Apple and Samsung both reported blockbuster first quarters.Apple and Samsung are both now more mobile phone companies than anything else (iPhones are more than 50% of Apple’s revenue and mobile phones are more than 40% of Samsung’s revenue).

Apple and Samsung together account for a huge share of the global smartphone market — ~70%, by some estimates — and the market is increasingly becoming a two-horse race.

(Nokia, RIM, and Motorola are cratering, Android is increasingly fragmented, which is bad news for Google. HTC, LG, et al, are smaller players or focused primarily on dumbphones.)

So who’s winning?

Strategy Analytics says Samsung’s winning–selling 44.5 million smartphones in Q1 vs. Apple’s 35 million.

iSuppli says Apple’s winning–that Samsung only sold 32 million smartphones in Q1.

Someone knows the truth. So weigh in, please!

And in the meantime…

Here’s iSuppli’s latest take on the global mobile race:

Samsung Overtakes Nokia for mobile phone Lead  April 26, 2012  Wayne Lam

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in the first quarter overtook Nokia Corp. to become the world’s largest mobile phone brand for the first time. However, Samsung remained in second place in the smartphone segment of the mobile phone market, behind Apple Inc.

The South Korean electronics giant shipped 92 million mobile phones worldwide in the first quarter, compared to 83 million for longtime market leader Nokia.While Samsung’s shipments declined by 13 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, Nokia’s dropped by 27 per cent, as presented in Table 1. This allowed Samsung to rise one position to take first place.

Mobile Handset Ranking

 In the smartphone segment of the mobile phone market, Apple shipped 35 million units in the first quarter, as presented in Table 2. This compares to 32 million for Samsung. Apple remained in the same position in smartphones that it captured in the fourth quarter of 2011—at No. 1—while Samsung held on to second place.

Smartphone Ranking


Apple’s smartphone shipments declined 5 per cent, compared to 11 per cent for Samsung. Sequential declines in the shipments of smartphones as well as mobile phones reflect normal seasonal patterns in which sales decrease following the peak holiday period in the fourth quarter.

Please note that the shipment information presented in this news flash and the tables present results from mobile phone and smartphone brands that have already reported their results for the first calendar quarter of 2012. Brands that haven’t reported yet are not included.

With mobile phones now accounting for more than 40 per cent of Samsung’s overall revenue, it’s clear that the company’s continued investments in smartphone hardware and software R&D are paying off,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at IHS. “The company is not only cashing in on the market’s shift to smartphones, but is also succeeding in other mobile phone product categories, allowing it to capture the overall market lead. What makes Samsung’s performance even more impressive is that the company’s latest Galaxy S III handset has yet to be launched, with shipments set to start in May. This indicates Samsung is likely to make further progress in market share in 2012.”

With Samsung taking the leadership position, it will mark the first time since 1998 that Nokia has not been the No. 1 brand in the global mobile phone market.

“Samsung’s surpassing of Nokia for mobile phone market leadership represents not only a changing of the guard among handset brands but also a fundamental shift in the structure of the wireless market,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst, mobile for IHS. “mobile phone market growth is now being generated exclusively by the smartphone segment, and not by the feature phones, entry-level mobile phones and ultra-low-cost handsets (ULCH) that had fuelled the industry’s expansion over the previous decade.Samsung has successfully ridden the wave of smartphone adoption to attain market leadership. Meanwhile, Nokia is in the midst of transitioning its smartphone strategy, resulting in declining shipments for the company.”

Smartphones are the only segment of the global mobile phone business expected to expand in 2012. Global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35 per cent this year, while those for feature phones, entry-level phones and ULCHs will all decline. As a result, the smartphone segment will be single-handedly responsible for the overall mobile phone business expansion of 7.4 per cent in 2012. Next year, smartphone shipments will rise to account for more than half of all mobile phones for the first time, at 52 per cent, up from 43.5 per cent in 2012.

 Smartphones represented 34 per cent of Samsung’s handset shipments in the first quarter. In contrast, smartphones accounted for just 14 per cent of Nokia’s shipments.

 “Samsung is reaping the rewards of strong execution in product design, distribution and marketing,” Fogg noted. “The company has been bold and innovative with handset form factors, featuring differentiated handsets such as the Galaxy Note with its sizable 5-inch display, and a wide range of handsets in every other conceivable screen size.

 Furthermore, Samsung has offered handsets on multiple smartphone operating system platforms, including Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Samsung’s own bada. By betting on all horses, Samsung is ensuring that it is backing a winner.

Meanwhile, Nokia has placed all its smartphone eggs into one basket: Windows Phone. To make Nokia’s Windows phone strategy pay off, Nokia must convince the leading carriers to visibly back Windows Phone as well as convince consumers of a valuable and differentiated experience.

The Samsung-Apple battle represents the front line in the war between Android and iOS. There are other large established Android original equipment manufacturers (OEM), like HTC Corp., LG Electronics, Sony Corp. and Motorola Mobility Inc., but all of them continue to struggle in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

For its part, Apple had sold approximately 19 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2011. One year later, the company dramatically increased its shipment volumes by 88 per cent to 35 million. And with the share of iPhone shipments shifting away from the United States toward a more international audience, Nokia could be hurt in its core regional markets in Europe and Asia.

Another smartphone player, Research in Motion Ltd., is staking its future performance on the new-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system, due to be shown at BlackBerry World next week, and set to launch later in 2012. RIM’s smartphone shipments declined to 11 million in the first quarter, down 21 per cent from 14 million in the fourth quarter.

Learn More > Smartphones Making the Grade in 2012

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