Samsung cedes smartphone crown to Apple

Apple sold 74.8m units in Q4 2014, compared to Samsung's 73m, says Gartner

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Samsung cedes smartphone crown to Apple The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus offered new users a strong alternative to Android, Gartner said (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  March 4, 2015

Samsung ceded its number-one position in the global smartphone market to Apple in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the latest figures released by Gartner.

With global smartphone sales seeing a year-over-year increase of 29.9% in Q4, reaching 367.5m units, Apple sold 74.8m units compared to Samsung's 73m, Gartner said. The research house pointed out that this was the first quarter that Samsung had been overtaken in terms of smartphone sales since 2011.

Apple's first large-screen phones continued to see huge demand with sales in China and the US, growing at 56% and 88%, respectively, Gartner said. The research house explained that Apple's strong ecosystem and its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus drove strong replacements within the iOS base, and added that these new smartphones also offered new users, who are looking for larger screen phones, a strong alternative to Android. 

"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." 

Samsung's struggling smartphone business saw it capture just 19.9% of the market, down from a market share of 29.5% in the year-ago quarter. Apple, meanwhile, secured 20.4% of smartphone sales in Q4 2014, compared to 17.8% in Q4 2013.

However, Samsung still came out on top in terms of full-year results, which saw smartphone sales surpass the 1bn mark - in all, 1.2bn smartphones were sold during 2014. Samsung captured 30.9% of the market, selling 307.6m devices, while Apple came in second with total sales of 191.4m devices - good for 15.5% of the market. But Gartner still cautioned that Samsung would have to re-evaluate its smartphone business to allay the obvious declines.

"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. 

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