Samsung’s dominance of the global smartphone market is at an end. For the first time since 2011, it’s no longer the biggest smartphone seller in the world. According to new data from Gartner, it’s been edged out by Apple, thanks to the runaway success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple’s proportion of global sales has jumped from 12.7% to 20.4% in Q4 2014; Samsung, meanwhile, slumped from 24.4% to 19.9%.
This is an historic, epic collapse on a global scale. If Samsung cannot turn this around then its fall from the top spot will end up being discussed in history books, just like BlackBerry’s epic failure to fight off the iPhone in 2007.
Here’s the data:
Apple’s dethroning of Samsung has been swift and decisive.
Previous data from Counterpoint showed that Apple has been even making serious headway in South Korea, Samsung’s home market. Historically, no foreign brand has broken the 20% market share mark in the country. In the latter part of 2014, Apple jumped from less than 15% in Semptemer to 33%, while Samsung dropped from 60% to 46%. It now looks likely that Apple may overtake Samsung in South Korea as the single-largest smartphone seller (and may have already done so).
Here’s a graph:
Meanwhile, Samsung’s profits are crumbling, unable to withstand Apple’s onslaught. The latter company is now responsible for 93% of all profits in the smartphone industry.
This rapid collapse points to one thing: Samsung has weak brand loyalty.
Consumers just want a high-end, large-screened smartphone, and for years Samsung was the only one sufficiently pushing the limits of screen size. Apple’s devices remained — until the launch of the 6 and 6 Plus — around the 4-inch mark. But now Apple is producing a larger-screened device, and consumers have decided there’s no longer any reason to buy a large Samsung smartphone.
With its one true unique selling point gone, Samsung is now trying to differentiate its products. It has added a unique curved screen to its latest flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S6.
Whether it will be successful remains to be seen. It’s not that people don’t want Android devices per se. After all, there are at least two brands with famously passionate fanbases: Xiaomi and Cyanogen. Both, however, pose more of a threat to Android-maker Google than to Apple. This is because they run “forked” versions of Android, which are developed independently of Google and are no longer in its control.
Xiaomi is the most valuable tech startup in the world, and while its business is confined to China and other developing countries for now, it’s beginning to explore its options in the West. Cyanogen, meanwhile, has recently raised $US100 million off the back of a promise to “take Android away from Google.”
As Apple cleans up the high-end of the smartphone market, the continued success of one — or both — of these companies means that all bets are off for Samsung. As emerging markets like China and India continue to grow, and the average price of an Android device continues to fall. Premium Android brands are failing, while the ones that command the most passionate support are those that stand to actively harm Google.
Until mainstream non-forked Android manufacturers are able to generate real brand loyalty, Samsung’s swift fall from the top shows how Google is under threat from not one but both ends of the market.