Apple sold more smartphones than anyone else in Q4 2014


Things are looking better than ever for Apple. Already the world’s first US$700-billion company, it now looks like it sold more smartphones in the last quarter of 2014 than Samsung.

According to technology research house Gartner, Apple claimed just over 20% of global smartphone sales during the quarter, overtaking Samsung which claimed just under 20%. That’s a fairly stark change from the same quarter in 2013 when Apple held just 17% of the market and Samsung 29.5%.

Smartphones marketshare Q2 2014

“Samsung’s performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure.”

Apple sales were boosted by the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus during the quarter as Samsung saw poor earnings and promised to make itself leaner.

As Gartner notes, increased efforts by Apple to open up the Chinese market to its devices:

“With Apple dominating the premium phone market and the Chinese vendors increasingly offering quality hardware at lower prices, it is through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

It was actually a pretty good quarter for smartphones overall, with 367.5-million units sold — an increase of 29.9 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2013

While Apple had the better final quarter, Samsung still sold nearly double the number of phones Apple did throughout 2014.

Full smartphone sales 2014

In 2014, sales of smartphones to end users totaled 1.2 billion units, up 28.4% from 2013 and represented two-thirds of global mobile phone sales.

While Apple and Samsung remain firmly at the top of the smartphone pile, Chinese manufacturers aren’t far behind them.

According to Gartner, Chinese vendors, such as Huawei and Xiaomi, are continuing to improve their sales in China and other overseas markets, increasing their share in the mid to low-end smartphone market. “Chinese vendors are no longer followers,” said Cozza. “They are producing higher quality devices with appealing new hardware features that can rival the more established players in the mobile phone market. Brand building and marketing will be key activities in deciding which Chinese vendors can secure a foothold in mature markets.”

Given what it’s done in the global PC market, it’s also worth watching a company like Lenovo which now holds third place in the global smartphone race and looks set to keep growing.

Those efforts are also helping drive the migration of people from feature to smartphones, which saw double-digit growth in most emerging countries, including India, Russia and Mexico.

Interestingly, the massive sales growth Apple saw both in the final quarter of 2014 and throughout the year didn’t see iOS make any real gains on Android in the mobile operating system space:

Mobile OS marketshare

That is however congruous with a growing smartphone market, especially with much of the growth at the bottom of the market happening on low-end Android devices. Windows Phone’s performance was flat but it recorded strong results in some markets in Europe, and in the business segment.



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