Samsung has overtaken Apple as the largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, according to two new market analysis reports from IDC and Strategy Analytics.
Samsung reportedly shipped 27.8 million smartphones in the third quarter, compared to Apple’s 17.1 million iPhones during the same period, according to a research report published late Thursday by Strategy Analytics (via Business Wire).
“Samsung’s rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution,” said Strategy Analytics director Neil Mawston in the release of the results, “Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem.”
The Strategy Analytics findings give Samsung a nearly 24 percent market share compared to Apple’s 14.6 percent.
Last quarter, the firm reported that Apple took the lead in the global smartphone market with an 18.5 percent market share and 20.3 million units shipped compared to Samsung’s 17.5 percent market share and 19.2 million units shipped.
So what happened? As many analysts, and even Apple, expected, consumers apparently held off buying new iPhones during the July through September period in hopes that a new model would come out, which it finally did, in the fourth quarter, on October 4.
Still, those numbers aren’t official per se, but rather an estimate, because Samsung itself stopped revealing smartphone shipment numbers in summer 2010 saying that they would provide competitors too much information on the company.
Samsung released its third quarter earnings on Friday, but only reported how much money it made from its telecommunications device sector in the quarter, a record $13.4 billion in revenue, which it said was driven mainly by sales of the Galaxy S II smartphone. The phone was released internationally beginning in May 2011 but didn’t hit the U.S. until September.
But another firm, IDC, also published its own estimate, which coincides well with the numbers from Strategy Analytics.
IDC reported on Thursday night that Samsung had shipped 87 million handsets in the quarter, which included regular (not smart) mobile phones, taking 22.3 percent of the market.
Meanwhile, the firm reported that Apple shipped 17.1 million units and commanded only 4.3 percent of the global mobile phone market share.
The big loser in both analyses was Nokia, which this time last year was the undisputed king of the global smartphone market with 23.7 percent of the market share, according to Strategy Analytics. Now, it’s market share has shrunken to just 14.4 percent, putting it in third place behind Samsung and Apple.
Broadly speaking, for all mobile phones, Nokia still maintains its lead in the market with 27.1 percent, according to IDC, but Samsung is catching up quickly with its 22.3 percent share. Also, Nokia experienced a 3.4 percent decline in shipments year-over-year as Samsung saw an astonishing 23 percent increase, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics.
Still, the good news for Samsung in these reports and its quarterly earnings wasn’t enough to offset the decline in its other business areas, namely, TVs and computer chips. As such, the company saw overall profit drop 23 percent in the quarter.
And Samsung is still number two when it comes to profit margins, with 16.9 percent compared to Apple’s 30.8 percent.
And as for the ongoing international patent fued between Apple and Samsung (actually just a proxy between Apple and Google, whose Android OS is the platform for Samsung’s phones), which Apple appears to be winning, Samsung doesn’t have to be necessarily too concerned, according to Daishin Securities analyst Park Kang-ho, who told the Financial Times that the battle seemed to have “little effect” on Samsung’s sales.
And with a new Samsung Galaxy Nexus on the way in November running the new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich release, the near-term future of the company’s smartphone portfolio is looking sweet indeed.
There’s just one thing that could ruin Samsung’s fourth quarter: Apple’s iPhone 4S, out now and selling some 4 million units in its first weekend of release. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has said he fully expects the iPhone 4S to outperform its predecessors.
“Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline,” he said in his fourth quarter earnings statement.