IDC Report: Samsung Ahead of Apple in Smartphones for 1Q 2012

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Contradicting last week’s IHS iSuppli report that Apple ranked first worldwide in smartphone shipments for the first quarter of 2012, research firm IDC released numbers that show Samsung ahead of Apple on the quarter. The Korean-based electronics company enjoyed a staggering 267 percent year-over-year growth in smartphone shipments to surpass Apple with 29.1 percent of the first quarter’s smartphone market share, according to the IDC report.

IDC Smartphones 1Q 2012Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data.

Apple saw a solid 88.7 percent year-over-year growth in shipments that led the company to achieve 24.2 percent of the smartphone market, up 18.3 percent over the first quarter last year. Additionally, the company, ranked third in overall mobile phone shipments, reached 8.8 percent of worldwide mobile phone market share, a record high.

IDC Mobile Shipments 1Q 2012Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data.

The discrepancy in Samsung’s performance numbers between IHS and IDC exists due to the company’s decision last summer to cease public disclosure of its phone sales data, a decision officially attributed to a desire for a competitive advantage while unofficially linked to the company’s ongoing litigation with Apple. As a result, market research firms are forced to use alternate data to estimate Samsung’s performance, resulting in not-insignificant discrepancies as seen today.

IDC attributes Samsung’s stellar growth to the expansion of its Galaxy line of phones and tablets to multiple price points, screen sizes, processor speeds, and carriers.

“The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program.

Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched.

Nokia, RIM, and HTC rounded out the top five smartphone vendors for the quarter, with each seeing large decreases in year-over-year performance.

Overall, there were 144.9 million smartphones shipped during the quarter, an increase of 42.5 percent from the same quarter last year. Smartphones now account for over 36 percent of all mobile phone sales worldwide.

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Shipped != sold.

I seriously doubt that Apple is losing any sleep over this. For some reason, I can’t see them sitting in the board room obsessing about Samsung shipping more phones.


What I find most interesting is the free fall of Nokia and RIM.


So who do we believe - iSuppli or IDC?

However, this is all moot as unit sales share isn’t the important metric. It is ecosystem health, app platform share, usage share, developer income, third party peripheral marketshare, manufacturer profitshare, web browser share, business market share etc which are far more revealing as to who is beating who in the mobile market:

- 80% of mobile devices activated by businesses last quarter were iOS devices according to Good Technologies.
- 73.9% of business smartphones in use were iPhones and 26.1% were Android.
- The iPad accounted for 97.3 % of business tablet activations for the quarter, compared with 2.7% for Android.
- 90% of mobile purchases were made on iPads according to Rich Relevance
- 69% of mobile web browsing occurs on iOS devices versus only 27% on Android devices according to Chitika
- 89% of the mobile web browsing on a typical Australian university?s websites are from iOS devices and only 10% from Android
- iOS developer income share is 6x greater than Android
- Apple has captured a 75% share of the profits of the entire cellphone industry with Samsung being relegated to a measly 20%
- iOS has a vastly larger ecosystem of third party hardware peripherals, accessories, cases, docks, car integration, app numbers, app downloads and sheer developer numbers than Android or Samsung.

Although lots of people buy Android phones, so many are obviously such cut-price hardware that they must only be used as dumbphones as users certainly aren’t browsing the web on them, using them for work, purchasing content or engaging in web commerce.

These are the figures that matter to developers, advertisers, content producers, shareholders, business people and ultimately consumers and Apple is head and shoulders above all competition in these terms.

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