Samsung feels heat in smartphone wars

28 January 2014
GLOBAL: Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, is coming under increasing pressure in the smartphone market as new figures show its share slipping in Europe and unchanged in the fast-growing Chinese market.

Latest sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to December 2013, indicated that Samsung's European share was down 2.2 percentage points to 40.3% while in China its share was flat at 23.7%.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said that local brands were proving themselves clear winners in China and highlighted the performance of Xiaomi which had become the top selling smartphone there during December. This was, he said, "a truly remarkable achievement for a brand which was only started in 2010 and sells its device almost exclusively online".

In addition to high spec devices and low prices, Xiaomi had been able to create "unprecedented buzz" through online and social platforms, all of which had helped push it to the top spot.

The Financial Times noted that Samsung was directing substantial investment into new business areas such as software where it had partnered with Intel to develop a new operating system for mobile devices. It also reported that the company had settled its legal battle with rival Ericsson and deepened its relationship with Google, whose Android operating system (OS) is used in its smartphones.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Android ended the year as the top OS across Europe with a 68.6% share, with Apple's iOS in second place on 18.5%. Windows Phone had shown high year-on-year growth, but its share of the European market remained flat at 10.3%.

Android's dominance was even more marked in Latin America, where its share of 83.5% was a 21.9 point uplift from the same period in 2012. And in China its 78.6% share represented a year-on-year rise of 4.9 points.

Sunnebo noted that Apple'S iOS had lost share in most countries, "but importantly it has held strong shares in key markets including 43.9% in USA, 29.9% in Great Britain and 19.0% in China".

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff
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