ABI Research: Apple and Samsung garner 50% of global smartphone market and 90% of its profits

Although smartphone shipments grew 41% year-over-year to 144.6 million as of the quarter ending March 2012, many smartphone OEMs are not enjoying the benefits of a rapidly expanding market. Samsung and Apple captured 55% of global smartphone shipments in 1Q’2012 and over 90% of the market’s profits. The question remains: can anyone break away to become a strong third in this market?

Of the top ten smartphone OEMs, only Samsung and Sony experienced sequential growth in shipments over 4Q’2011. Nokia witnessed a 40% sequential decline in shipments and may soon be passed by ailing RIM in shipments despite the BlackBerry maker’s 20% sequential decline in shipments. “At this point in the year, Nokia will have to grow its Windows Phone business 5000% in 2012 just to offset its declines in Symbian shipments,” says Michael Morgan, senior analyst, devices, applications & content.

ABI Research: Select Smartphone Vendor Shipments, 1Q'2012

As the smartphone markets of North America and Western Europe pass 50% penetration, smartphone OEMs should seek growth in key markets, such as China, which continues to show strong shipment growth of over 80%.

Despite the shipment growth opportunities that China offers, smartphone OEMs will have to contend with local vendors ZTE and Huawei whose cost structures are tailored to deliver smartphones and homologated content ecosystems at the lower price points needed to drive growth across the country. “As Nokia’s market share in China plummets, the competition to fill this power vacuum has the potential to make or break smartphone OEMs currently struggling with profitability and differentiation,” adds Jeff Orr, practice director, devices, applications & content.

ABI Research’s “Smartphone Market Data” provides quarterly global and regional data for smartphone operating systems, ASPs, vendor market shares, revenues, air interface protocols, and technology attach rates.

It is part of ABI Research’s Smartphones & Mobile Devices Research Service

Source: ABI Research

MacDailyNews Note: Unlike Apple, Samsung does not announce smartphone shipment figures (Apple releases sales figures). Estimates for Samsung’s mobile phone unit shipments vary widely among research firms.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Dan K.,” “Sarah,” and “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]


  1. Apple reports shipments sold to customers, including retailers. They also update inventory levels in the earnings conference call so one can figure out actual sell-thru.

    I am supportive of Apple but let’s be fair. Apple doesn’t “release” sales figures, it releases shipments and then gives you the info necessary to calculate sales ONLY if you listen to the conference call.

    1. Yeah, I’ve mentioned this before. And it is fairly easy to figure out just how many they sold by using their channel inventory numbers and shipment numbers. It’s usually fairly close (a million or so) to the shipment numbers though as Apple tends to sell through stock faster than most other companies. Of course, this is dependent on how much they’ve widened their distribution channel over the course of the quarter.

      Apple is still on less than half the carriers Android is on, which is virtually all of them. So the fact that Apple is able to maintain such a strong position is indicative of how popular their iPhone is with consumers.

      It’s also interesting to note, that the only Android OEM doing well right now is the one that mostly copied Apple’s designs and looks.

      1. A lot of corporations that still do a lot of monthly, quarterly and annual report printing still use line printers, which are basically dot-matrix printers that can print an entire line at a time. So they are extremely fast, which is necessary when you’re printing dozens of reports some of which are an entire box of paper in size.

        1. I’m sure you’re right, but it follows that these reports consequently never get looked at. I work with people who think that a report is a printed thing. They ask me to print the animated gif or the mouse overs and are stunned to learn it is not possible in the dynamic sense of the thing.

      2. @Michael – not all line printers are dot matrix printers. or vice versa.

        Agree with @Ivar comments about clients wanting things printed, regardless.

        I guess ABI is reverting to 1980s thinking that if it looks like it was printed on a computer, then by golly, it must be correct!

        That was then, this is now.

  2. Also to piggy back on MDN, Samsung calls a lot of things “smartphones” when they are really just glorified feature phones. There’s no way that Samesung sells anywhere near that many actual “smartphones”.

    1. It’s kind of the same thing with Android in general. Android can be installed on some PoS feature phones that no one would thing of as a smart phone. This makes Android look like it’s popular when it’s not nearly as popular as they’d have you believe.

    2. This is true and was pointed out a while back. Someone showed that while Samsung’s “smart phone” business was growing as they’re feature phone business was shrinking. The cause is directly related to Samsung’s replacing various feature phone models with so called smart phones, which was bound to happen as more advanced hardware got cheaper to produce.

      I always find humors when fandroids pull out market share numbers to show that Android is winning. When all they have to do is look at the various real world usage statistics to see that it’s clearly Apple’s iOS platform that is way ahead. A platform isn’t much of anything if there isn’t a thriving ecosystem built around it and the biggest deciding factor of that is, are users willing to spend money? On Android this is a resounding, No. While with iOS they clearly do.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.