Surprisingly, Samsung Leads Global Mobile Phone Market, but Apple Surges

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Despite struggles with smartphone sales against a surging Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and horrible earnings, Samsung remained the world’s largest mobile phone maker (smartphones plus feature phones combined). However, Apple posted huge growth, and Samsung’s sales fell. The launch of the South Korean manufacturers new Galaxy S6 cannot come soon enough.

According to research firm Strategic Analytics, mobile phone sales rose 8% in the first quarter of 2015 to 445.1 million. Samsung sold 99 million units, but that was a drop from 113 million in the same quarter a year ago. Apple’s sales rose from 47.3 million to 61.2 million. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) was in the number three spot, but it continued to be crushed. Commenting on Microsoft’s problems, Ken Hyers, director at Strategy Analytics, remarked:

Microsoft shipped 33.7 million mobile phones worldwide in Q1 2015, down 28 percent from 47.0 million a year earlier. Microsoft’s 8 percent global mobile phone marketshare is sitting near an all-time low. Microsoft continues to lose ground in feature phones, while its Lumia smartphone portfolio is in a holding pattern awaiting the launch of new Windows 10 software later this year.

Apple also trailed Samsung in the smartphone market, as Samsung took the top spot in this category for the first quarter. Global smartphone sales rose 21% from the same quarter a year ago to 345 million.

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Commenting on the smartphone sector, Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, remarked:

Samsung shipped 83.2 million smartphones worldwide and captured 24 percent marketshare in Q1 2015, dipping from 31 percent a year earlier. Samsung continued to face challenges in Asia and elsewhere, but its global performance has stabilized sufficiently well this quarter to overtake Apple and recapture first position as the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume. Apple shipped 61.2 million smartphones worldwide and captured 18 percent marketshare in Q1 2015, rising from 15 percent in Q1 2014. Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models remain wildly popular in China and worldwide, as consumers upgrade to larger-screen phablets for enhanced data experiences.

Based on Apple’s recent earnings, in which the company’s management said it sold 61.2 million iPhones, its dominance in terms of growth almost certainly will persist.

Trailing the leaders, Chinese manufacture Lenovo-Motorola sold 18.8 million units, followed by China’s Huawei, which sold 17.3 million. Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, remarked:

Lenovo-Motorola held on to third position with 5 percent global smartphone marketshare in Q1 2015, but it has slipped from 7 percent a year ago. Lenovo is facing competitive pressure in the high-growth China LTE category, while Motorola is struggling to expand in its core market of North America and its growth market of India. Meanwhile, Huawei shipped a robust 17.3 million smartphones for 5 percent share and fourth position worldwide in Q1 2015. Huawei is expanding rapidly online in China and through retailers across Africa, enabling it to become an emerging powerhouse in developing regions.

Apple pointed out as management analyzed its own quarterly results that its growth in China has been extraordinary, and it is the second largest market after the Americas. Greater China iPhone sales were 16.8 million, versus 21.1 million in the Americas.

The Galaxy S6 has been well received by the media and analysts. However, it will need a blistering success to dent Apple’s growth.

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