Why Samsung is number one handset/smartphone vendor: why your mobile strategy should emulate Samsung

Samsung’s supremacy in the mobile business is no accident. In 2012, the South Korean electronics giant overtook Nokia to claim the number one spot with 23.4 percent of mobile phone market and extended its lead, massively, over Apple in the smartphone market taking 30.3 percent, according to IDC, Gartner and Strategy Analytics (see the tables below). Samsung also knocked Apple off its perch to become the best-loved smartphone vendor in the US-based Brand Keys 2013 Customer Loyalty Index.

So what’s the secret to its success? Samsung is a master at giving consumers what they want: choice. Samsung offers a mobile phone to suit every customer’s requirements, at all price points, on a variety of different operating systems, while its rivals offer a restricted or – in the case of Apple – no choice.

All companies that want to engage customers via mobile should emulate Samsung. In the free-market economy, customers must be allowed to choose what type of handset they want to use and to engage with companies via the mobile channel of their choice, be that SMS, mobile Web, email or native app. Companies have to fit their mobile strategy to suit consumer choice. Companies that are prescriptive in their mobile engagement, epitomized by companies that only offer an iPhone or Android app, are pushing all their other customers (both those that have a different handset and those who simply don’t want another app cluttering up their cell phone) into the welcoming arms of their competitors.

The facts:
• Despite the growing popularity of smartphones (sales grew 44 percent in 2012, according to IDC), 59 percent of mobile purchasers still bought a feature phone in 2013.
• Despite the meteoric rise of the Android operating system (OS), which is used in handsets from Samsung, ZTE, HTC and others, 70 percent of mobile purchasers didn’t buy an Android handset in 2013.
• Apple might be the number two smartphone vendor, but 86 percent of people who purchased a mobile in 2013 didn’t buy an iOS/Apple handset.

The outlook:
• Smartphone sales are projected to grow worldwide at 17.9 percent per year between 2012 and 2016. In 2016 Canalys (February 2012) believes there will be 1.3 billion smartphones sold in 2016, which is twice the amount sold in 2012 (see table below). In 2016, Canalys forecasts that twice as many smartphones will be sold as feature/basic phones – today feature phones outsell smartphones.

• Smartphone sales growth will be driven mostly by demand in developing nations, says Canalys. In 2013, 29 percent of smartphone sales will be in China, where low-end smartphones, particularly from local vendors – e.g. Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE – are expected to do well.
While Samsung was the top smartphone vendor in China in Q4, Apple is struggling to make much of an impact, as the iPhone is too expensive, says Canalys.
• In 2016, IDC forecasts that Android (project market share in 2016: 64 percent) and iOS (19 percent) will have a similar share of the smartphone market as they do today, as will BlackBerry (RIM) (4 percent), but Windows (11 percent) will overtake BlackBerry to take third place. N.B. IDC’s forecasts preceded the launch of BlackBerry 10, which caused much media excitement. See the table below.
Canalys (February 2012) expects Android-powered handsets to take 71 percent of the smartphone market in 2013, then to gradually decline to 66 percent in 2016.
• The wildcards in this game are the new HTML5-friendly operating systems based on Linux. These give handset manufacturers and operators, as well as consumers more choice. These OS include Tizen (Samsung, Intel and supporters), Firefox (Mozilla and supporters) and SailFish (Jolla and supporters). However IDC, (surprisingly, considering the growing number of supporting partners), only forecasts a market share of less that 2 percent for these in 2016.

Samsung – the champion of consumer choice
So let’s get back to Samsung…
Analyzing the products available from the top five handset and smartphone manufacturers tells a very interesting story.
In the US alone, Samsung offers 153 different cell phones. Feature phone or smartphone? Cheap or expensive? Big or small? Flat-screen or physical QWERTY keyboard? 4G or 3G? NFC? Bluetooth? WiFi? Flip phone? Rugged phone? GPS? Whatever the customer wants, within reason, Samsung provides. It offers smartphones with a variety of operating systems (OS): Android, Windows, Bada (a home-grown OS) and there are plans to launch phones based on Tizen. The idea behind Tizen, supposedly, is to help Samsung reduce its reliance on Android.
Aside: Considering its relative OS ambivalence, is it fair to speculate that Samsung would sell smartphones based on iOS and BlackBerry 10, if Apple (unlikely) and BlackBerry (it’s been speculated) were prepared to license their proprietary OS?

Compare this to the competition (numbers apply to product availability in the US – expect the Asian manufacturers to offer a wider range of phones in developing markets and or home markets, such as dual-SIM handsets):
• Nokia (Finland), formerly the top vendor in both handsets and smartphones, now No2 and No3 respectively, offers 21 handsets worldwide, including feature phones and smartphones, but only 8 handsets in the US. Since Nokia killed Symbian OS (which at the time was long-time market leader), and then abandoned MeeGo, it now only offers smartphones on the Windows platform – currently only flat-screen models.
Point of interest: MeeGo spawned two of the new Linux-based OS Tizen and Sailfish.
• Apple (USA), No3 in handsets, No2 in smartphones, only offers one choice – or three if you include older models – (albeit a popular one): the iPhone, a touch-screen smartphone running Apple’s iOS.
• ZTE (China), No4 handset vendor, offers 22 handsets, including feature phones, Android and Windows smartphones, options include flat screen or QWERTY keyboard, various screen sizes, GPS and 3G/4G. The Chinese manufacturer plans to launch a smartphone powered by Firefox OS at Mobile World Congress this month.
• LG (Korea), No5 handset vendor, offers 61 handsets, predominantly Android smartphones, in both flat-screen and QWERTY, 3G or 4G, with a dual-core or quad-core processor.
• HTC (Taiwan), No4 smartphone manufacturer, sells 19 flat-screen smartphones, running either Android or Windows.
• BlackBerry/RIM (Canada), No5 smartphone vendor, offers 13 smartphones, both touch-screen and QWERTY. The new flat-screen Z10 and QWERTY Q10 – the first smartphones based on the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 OS are not yet available in the US. The Z10 is apparently selling well in Canada and the UK. The Q10 isn’t on sale anywhere yet.

Of course there’s a lot more to Samsung’s success than handset variety. This includes pricing, marketing, perception and the quality of the product – announcing the Q4 results, Samsung credited much of its year-on-year mobile growth to sales of its high-end Galaxy smartphone. But the fact that Samsung offers so much more choice to consumers than its competitors has to be significant. mobiThinking isn’t alone in coming to this conclusion – according to media reports part of the reason for the recent fall in Apple’s share price is investor concern at Apple’s one-smartphone strategy.

And now the stats…
• The first table shows Samsung’s growth to become the dominant handset vendor ahead of Nokia, which was the market leader in 2011.
• The second table shows Samsung’s growth to become dominant smartphone vendor. In 2011 both Samsung and Apple were neck and neck as No1 and No2 in Smartphone vendors (prior to 2011, Nokia was the smartphone market leader) but in 2012 Samsung sold more than 50 percent more smartphones than Apple.
• The third table shows the forecasted shares of smartphone operating systems in 2012 and 2016.
• The forth table compares the projected growth of mobile devices, including feature phones, smartphones, tablets and notebooks in 2012 and 2016.

Tables 1&2: Top feature phone and smartphone manufacturers by global sales

Top ten mobile phone manufacturers in 2012 (millions of units)according to Gartner   Top five mobile phone vendors, shipments, and market share in 2012 (millions of units), according to IDC
Vendor 2012
market share
market share
  Vendor 2012
market share
market share
Samsung 384.6 22.0% 315.1 17.7%   Samsung 406.0 23.7% 330.9 19.3%
Nokia 333.9 19.1% 422.5 23.8%   Nokia 335.6 19.6% 416.9 24.3%
Apple 130.1 7.5% 89.3 5.0   Apple 135.9 7.8% 93.1 5.4%
ZTE 67.3 3.9% 56.9 3.2%   ZTE 65.0 3.7% 69.5 4.1%
LG 58 3.3% 86.4 4.9%   LG 55.9 3.2% 88.1 5.1%
Huawei 47.3 2.7% 40.7 2.3%            
TCL 37.2 2.1% 34 1.9%            
BlackBerry (RIM) 34.2 2% 51.5 2.9%            
Motorola 33.9 1.9% 40.3 2.3%            
HTC 32.1 1.8% 43.3 2.4%            
Others 587.4 33.6% 595.9 33.6%   Others 737.5 42.6% 716.8 41.8%
Total 1,746.2 100.0% 1,775.7 100%   Total 1712.6 100.0% 1715.3 100.0%
Source: © Gartner (Feb 2013)   Source: © IDC (Jan 2013)
Top five smartphone vendors, shipments, and market share in 2012 (millions of units), according to IDC   Top three smartphone manufacturers in 2012 (millions of units), according to Strategy Analytics
Vendor 2012
market share
market share
  Vendor 2012
market share
market share
Samsung 215.8 30.3% 94.2 19.0%   Samsung 213.0 30.4% 97.4 19.9%
Apple 136.8 19.1% 93.1 18.8%   Apple 135.8 19.4% 93.0 19.0%
Nokia 35.1 4.9% 77.3 15.6%   Nokia 35.0 5.0% 77.3 15.8%
HTC 32.6 4.6% 43.6 8.8%            
BlackBerry (RIM) 32.5 4.6% 51.1 10.3%            
Others 260.7 36.5% 135.3 27.5%   Others 316.3 45.2% 222.8 45.4%
Total 712.6 100.0% 494.6 100.0%   Total 700.1 100.0% 490.5 100.0%
Source: © IDC (Jan 2013)   Source: © Strategy Analytics (Jan 2013)
Via: © mobiThinking

Table 3: Smartphone operating systems

Global smartphone operating system share in 2012 and 2016, according to IDC   Global smartphone operating system share in 2012, 2013 and 2016, according to Canalys
Operating System 2012 sales (millions) 2012 market share 2016 market share 2012-16 Growth   Operating System 2012 market share 2013 market share 2016 market share
Android 497.1m 68.8% 63.8% 16.3%   Android 68% 71% 66%
iOS 135.9m 18.8% 19.1% 16.3%   iOS 20% N/A N/A
BlackBerry OS

32.5m 4.5% 4.1% 14.6%   BlackBerry OS 5% N/A N/A

23.9m 3.3% N/A N/A          
Windows Phone

17.9m 2.5% 11.4% 16.3%          
Linux N/A 2.0% 1.5% 10.5%          
Others 15.1m 2.1% 0.1% N/A>          
Total 722.4m 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%   Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Source: © IDC (Feb 2013); IDC (Dec 2012)   Source: © Canalys (Feb 2013)
Via: © mobiThinking

Table 4: Comparative sales of mobile devices

Worldwide mobile device shipments in 2012 and 2016 (millions of units), according to Canalys   Smart connected device market by product category (shipments in millions), according to IDC
Type of device 2012 shipments 2016 shipments 2012-16 Growth   Type of device 2012 shipments 2012 market share
Basic phone 122.0 58.0 -17.0%   Smartphone 722.4m 60.1%
Feature phone 770.8 660.9 -3.8%   Tablet 128.3m 10.7%
Smartphone 694.8 1,342.5 17.9%   Portable PC 202m 16.8%
Tablet 114.6 383.5 35.3%   Desktop PC 148.4 12.4%
Notebook 215.7 169.1 -5.9%        
Netbook 18.5 0.3 -65.4%        
Total 1,936.2 2,614.2 7.8%   Total 1201.1m 100.0%
Source: © Canalys (Feb 2013)   Source: © IDC (Feb 2013)
Via: © mobiThinking

• If you like stats, you’ll love: The big compendium of global mobile stats

Don’t miss:

• Global mobile ad market will be worth US$11.4 billion in 2013, double that by 2016
• André Andrade, MEF: What makes mobile critical for customer engagement in Latin America?
• Top tips on building and marketing your mobile site in China
• Most popular content on mobiThinking in 2012
• Strategies for securing the enterprise in a BYOD world
• Guide to mobile ad networks • Latest ad network profile: Twinpine
• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest mobile markets • New country guides: NigeriaKenya
• There are one billion smartphones in use in the world – that’s all folks
• Guide to mobile agencies • Latest agency profile: The Hyperfactory
• Guide to mobile industry awards • Check out the video case studies: EmmasWSA Mobile
• Mobile events 2013 • best conferences, great discounts and free tickets •
• The big compendium of global mobile stats

Leave a Reply

Exclusive tips, how-tos, news and comment

Receive monthly updates on the world of mobile dev.

Other Products

Market leading device intelligence for the web, app and MNO ecosystems
DeviceAtlas - Device Intelligence

Real-time identification of fraudulent and misrepresented traffic
DeviceAssure - Device Verification

A free tool for developers, designers and marketers to test website performance
mobiReady - Evaluate your websites’ mobile readiness

© 2024 DeviceAtlas Limited. All rights reserved.

This is a website of DeviceAtlas Limited, a private company limited by shares, incorporated and registered in the Republic of Ireland with registered number 398040 and registered office at 6th Floor, 2 Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2, Ireland