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Samsung steals smartphone lead from Apple

Posted: 04 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung? Apple? smartphone? iPhone? Strategy Analytics?

The robust shipment of Samsung's smartphones in Q1 has allowed the company to regain the top spot in the smartphone market, besting Apple. Samsung no longer reveals sales of its smartphones, but Strategy Analytics pegged shipments during Q1 at 83.2 million, easily surpassing the 61 million iPhones Apple shipped during the period, a record, by the way, for Apple. In 4Q14, both Apple and Samsung shipped about 74.5 million smartphones, essentially tying for first place.

However, profits remain elusive for the world's largest maker of phones, despite being the king of smartphones. Samsung's profit sank YoY, worrying investors and placing pressure on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones to outperform their predecessors.

Apple's strong Q4 performance was due to brisk sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

"Samsung continued to face challenges in Asia and elsewhere, but its global performance has stabilised sufficiently well this quarter to overtake Apple and recapture first position as the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume," said Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston.

Galaxy S6

The combined Lenovo-Motorola ranked third in overall shipments during Q1 (18.8 million), and Huawei ranked fourth (17.3 million). LG placed fifth with shipments of 15.4 million, a drop of just 100,000 devices compared to 4Q14.

Samsung's smartphone shipments may have regained their footing a bit during the first three months of 2015, but they're still down significantly from the 89 million devices Samsung shipped during 1Q14. More to the point, Samsung said net profits dropped 39 per cent from the year-ago period to $4.3 billion. The company's mobile phone business by itself delivered profits of $2.55 billion, but that number is down 57 per cent from the year-ago period.

For its Q1 numbers, Samsung can thank a greater number of sales of mid-range handsets, rather than its profit-generating premium devices.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge did not play a role in defining Samsung's Q1, since they didn't go on sale until April 10. Samsung said the new phones are outpacing shipments of last year's Galaxy S5, at least initially. The S5 had a much larger launch window. It went on sale in more than 100 countries, while the S6 and S6 Edge are still available in only 20 countries. Samsung anticipates the S6 will eventually outsell the S5, S4 and S3.

The company's newest phones break with its traditional plastic designs in favour of high-quality glass and metal. The change has proven polarising for fans of Samsung handsets, many of whom decry the lack of a removable battery and expandable storage.

LG took a different turn with its 2015 flagship smartphone, the G4. Rather than match the premium materials and designs of the iPhone 6, One M9 and Galaxy S6, LG chose leather to set its smartphone apart from the crowd. The G4 doesn't go on sale until June.

- Eric Zeman

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