Samsung and Apple fend off low-cost vendors

Posted by Trent Nouveau

​For the second calendar quarter in a row, smartphone shipments represented more than half (52%) of the world’s mobile phone shipments. Led by electronics manufacturer Samsung, an estimated 408 million handsets and 214 million smartphones shipped during the second quarter of 2013, according to ABI Research.

Feature phone shipments declined 20% year-over-year to 195 million units as low-cost manufacturers continue to claw their way up-market with increased device specifications.
Due to typical seasonality gains at mid-year, handset shipments grew 0.5% sequentially and more than 7% year-over-year.

Smartphone shipments maintained a healthy growth rate of 5.5% sequentially and nearly 44% year-over-year. "Despite concerns of premium tier smartphone saturation, both Samsung and Apple were able to deliver better than expected results in the second quarter," says senior analyst Michael Morgan.

The high end of the smartphone market continued to perform well in 2Q as Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhones outpaced the overall market. Despite the surprising tenacity of premium smartphones, Apple’s market share (14.6%) dropped to its lowest point since 3Q’2011.

ABI Research attributes this share loss to the success of the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch and the continued growth of low cost and mass market smartphone shipments.

"The second half of 2013 will be defined by fierce competition between price-aggressive OEMs moving toward the middle tiers for increased margins while at the same time top tier OEMs are diversifying portfolios into the middle in search of continued growth," adds senior practice director Jeff Orr.

As competitors such as Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo move their smartphone portfolios upstream, ABI expects increasing margin pressure on the premium smartphone segment where the majority of industry profits reside.