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Samsung's Universe Includes Growing Galaxy Market Share

Samsung's Universe Includes Growing Galaxy Market Share
By Jennifer LeClaire

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The real story is not how many smartphones Apple and Samsung shipped -- it's how many smartphones the network operators actually sold. Samsung and Apple like to say how many smartphones they shipped, but how many Android smartphones and how many iOS smartphones are actually in the consumers’ hands -- not just on store shelves?
 


Apple may have posted a record quarter for iPhone sales, but the sheer volume doesn’t compare to what Samsung is seeing with its Galaxy line. Of course, neither company is complaining about its sales these days.

The smartphone market is exploding, growing 38.8 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2013. So says market research firm IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Vendors shipped 258.4 million smartphones in the quarter. That’s a new record for units shipped in a single quarter, beating the last quarter by 9 percent.

"The third quarter was up substantially over the previous quarter, which was also a record quarter for shipments, showing the real momentum of the smartphone market," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Price points have declined significantly, driven largely by low-cost Android solutions. This has helped China to become one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, accounting for more than one third of all shipments last quarter. We expect this trend to continue going forward."

Samsung Still the Big Winner

The Android smartphone platform has created opportunities for new vendors to get into the smartphone space and, in turn, has produced new competitive pressures at the top of the market, IDC reports. Vendors from outside the top five continue to control nearly half the worldwide smartphone market in terms of shipments.

But the big winner here is Samsung. Samsung maintained its leadership position, shipping more units than the next four vendors combined, according to IDC. Samsung's flagship models received the lion's share of attention, with more carriers adding the Galaxy S4, continued demand for the Galaxy S III, and the introduction of the Galaxy Note 3.

Apple's total volumes speak to the early success of the iPhones 5s and 5c, and the softening demand of older devices prior to the new models launching. The iPhone 5s lived up to the hype of the gold case and the fingerprint sensor, and the iPhone 5c with an array of colors. At the same time, limited usability on the fingerprint sensor and higher-than-expected pricing on the iPhone 5c drew mixed reactions. Still, IDC said, this did not prevent Apple from enjoying a record 9 million units shipped when they debuted.

Do the Numbers Lie?

We asked Michael Disabato, managing vice president of network and telecom at Gartner, for his take on the numbers. He told us the real story is not how many smartphones vendors shipped. The real story is how many smartphones the network operators actually sold. (continued...)

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