Arrested development: while the iPhone lagged, Android sales boomed in the last year

April 26, 2013
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android vs apple

Market share estimations from IDC and Strategy Analytics show that, while the top four Android smartphone makers posted massive sales increases, Apple’s growth was mediocre.

In the last 24 hours, two of the largest and most respected market research firms, Strategy Analytics and IDC, have posted their smartphone shipments estimations for the first quarter of 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two firms came to similar results, although their statistics are slightly different:

Shipments (millions of units) SA Q1 2013 SAQ1 2012 IDCQ1 2013 IDCQ1 2012
Samsung

69.4

44.4

70.7

44

Apple

37.4

35.1

37.4

35.1

LG

10.3

4.9

10.3

4.9

Huawei

10.0

5.1

9.9

5.1

ZTE

9.1

4.6

9.1

6.1

Others

73.3

59.7

78.8

57.5

Before we continue, let’s note that these figures are based on actual information from the companies (the case of Apple and LG) or on estimates (the case of Samsung).

What do these figures tell us? Let’s break it down.

  • Samsung is king of the hill, and doesn’t look like it plans to vacate the throne any time soon. Samsung sold more smartphones than the Apple, LG, Huawei, and ZTE combined. Moreover, the company’s growth year over the year is impressive.
  • Apple recorded a modest growth of 6.6 percent year over year. If we were talking about a different industry, that growth would have been reasonably satisfactory. But when the industry as a whole is growing 36 percent annually, 6.6 percent is worrying.
  • LG managed to double its shipments, propelled by the success of devices like the Nexus 4 and LG Optimus G. While still far from threatening Apple’s second position, LG has took big strides in rebranding itself as a first tier smartphone maker.
  • Huawei and ZTE also almost doubled their shipments and displaced from the top five better-known players like Nokia and HTC. While still not a firsthand presence in the West, the two Chinese giants are slowly making a name for themselves in the high-end smartphone market.
  • The Others category lumps together names as diverse as Nokia, HTC, BlackBerry, Sony or Motorola, not to mention the myriad of smaller phone makers and the no-name devices sold by the boatload in emerging markets. While this category grew over the past year, it did so at a moderate pace, suggesting that the market is consolidating around the top players.

The biggest takeaway from these statistics is the disparity between the growth of iOS and Android. This disparity is one of the reasons Apple’s stock lost so much of its value since the iPhone 5 was announced. Apple is rumored to introduce a new low cost iPhone model to better compete against Android, but judging from Tim Cook’s recent statements, the new device could be launched as late as this fall.

That would give the Android army even more time to solidify its position. Google’s operating system is still growing in most markets, with the notable exception of the US, where Apple is eroding Android’s leadership.

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