Samsung smartphones capture record market share, leave iPhones behind

According to new quarterly reports from IDC and Strategy Analytics, Samsung has increased its lead on the smartphone market in Q3 2013. The South Korean maker's shipments were higher than those of the next four-largest vendors, combined, according to the IDC data.

Samsung's smartphone shipments surpassed 80 million units (IDC -- 81.2 million; SA --88.4 million), leading to a market share above 30 percent (IDC -- 31.4 percent; SA -- 35.2 percent). Once again, the two research firms, both of which count shipments, provide different data sets for both shipments and market share. However, both reports say that in Q3 2013 smartphone shipments reached record levels (IDC -- 258.4 million; SA -- 251.4 million).

Meanwhile, main rival Apple shipped 33.8 million iPhones (a figure the company makes publicly available) which represents a 25.7 percent increase from the 26.9 million units in Q3 2012. Its market share, however, dropped. IDC shows a decrease to 13.1 percent from 14.4 percent while SA reveals a drop to 13.4 percent from 15.6 percent, in the said time-frames.

"Beyond Samsung and Apple at the top of the rankings is a tight race of vendors trying to break out from the pack", says IDC research manager Ramon Llamas. "In 3Q13, Chinese vendors Huawei and Lenovo moved past LG, and not far behind are two more Chinese companies, Coolpad and ZTE. Any of these vendors could change position again next quarter. But in addition to having close shipment volumes, they all have one key ingredient in common: Android. This has been a huge factor in their success, but it also speaks to the challenges of differentiation on the world's most popular platform".

By contrast, SA's report places LG above Lenovo in the top five-largest smartphone vendors list.

Even though Samsung has a number of popular smartphones on the market, like the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S3, IDC says that the growth of the South Korean maker comes from its "long line of mass-market" devices "that helped fuel volumes to reach a new record level". SA adds that demand for the Galaxy S4 "softened", which represents an opposite trend compared to the Galaxy Note 3.

According to IDC, Apple's higher market share stems from the launch of the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and the decreasing demand in older models. That said, the research firm points out that the effectiveness of the fingerprint sensor and high pricing of the iPhone 5c did not go hand in hand with consumers, leading to "mixed reactions". SA is confident that the company's market share will bounch back in Q4 2013, following demand of the iPhone 5s.

It is worth noting that LG has dropped to third place in both reports, while neither HTC nor Sony have managed to make it into the top five even though both companies launched new flagships -- One and Xperia Z1, respectively -- that were well received. Both Huawei and Lenovo shipped a significant number of smartphones in the Asia/Pacific region, where other makers are still struggling to be successful.

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