Gartner has recently published it’s sales of mobile devices for Q1 2013. The findings suggest that Google Android is continuing to be the star of the show, led largely by the electronics giant Samsung. The staggering figures suggest Android now accounts for 75% of mobile handset shipments – this equates to 156 million devices in a 3 month period. In all there were 425 million mobile phones sold in the same period, with 210 million of those being web enabled smartphones. With growth in non web enabled mobile phones starting to subside, it’s clear that high-end smartphone devices such as iPhone and Android are continuing to drive the market forward.
The figures could indicate that Samsung is now the biggest player in the smartphone market. The Korean firm accounted for roughly 31% of smartphone sales with Apple making up an 18% share of the market in second position. This is a huge step-change from when the two rivals were virtually on a level standing in terms of global smartphone sales for the same quarter in 2012. This trend only looks set to continue with the hotly anticipated launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which runs the Android OS. This should enable Android to continue to widen the gap and strengthen its foothold as market leader, in a global market increasingly driven by sales of web enabled mobile devices.
It appears that many Apple evangelists may be holding off on purchasing an iPhone 5, in favour of waiting for a new model. Apple is poised to launch a low-cost smartphone specifically designed to tap into the mass-market; a strategic move that could enable them to encroach on Google’s continuing dominance and growing market share. There are a huge number of Android devices today, aimed at a non-premium end of the market that Apple need to seriously consider. In 2007 Apple blazed a trail with the iPhone. In 2013 the trailblazing innovation appears to be coming from Google with the imminent launch of Google Glass and the much hyped self-driving car. In terms of dominance in the mobile OS market, Google is the main player with the biggest share.
The market is also being driven by low-cost smartphone offerings from the Far east including Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE. It’s sales of smartphones and feature-phones in the Far East that are representing the bulk of the numbers. In Q1 of 2013, sales of smartphones in China accounted for a whopping 25.7% of the global total. Whilst Apple still has a strong grip on premium price, high-end devices; it’s innovation in new markets that will dictate future success. With wearable tech and self-driving cars set to provide the next technological frontier, the race for supremacy will be fascinating.
However these figures don’t consider one highly fundamental metric – the revenue and margins accrued by each brand. By displaying marketshare we can’t actually see who’s making the most cash. History dictates it’s Apple that pack the killer profit margins, with Samsung practically giving away devices to gain market share. But whilst Apple’s pricing strategy has proved incredibly profitable, consumers are now more demanding of the smartphone technology, and the innovation gap is closing. Second generation smartphone owners are now purchasing a new device based on apps they already use like WhatsApp, Angry Birds etc. The fact is that Google Android can deliver on these apps at a vastly more affordable price-point and consumers no longer have to pay a premium for that experience and luxury. These figures suggest the balance of power in the global smartphone market between Apple and Google has fundamentally shifted in favour of the latter.