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Apple chases Samsung in Korea

News, 26 January 2015

SEOUL/HONG KONG: Consumer demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices has propelled Apple to capture a third of the smartphone market in South Korea, a country where rival Samsung has long been dominant, a new report has revealed.

It is the first time that a foreign brand has gone beyond 20% smartphone market share in the country and Apple's share would have risen to about 40% if there had been better supply of the popular models, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Hong Kong-based research firm analysed sales data up until the end of November 2014 in 33 countries, but the iPhone's success in South Korea, Japan and China was a highlight in its report.

Apple's market share in South Korea shot up from a low base after it launched the 6 Plus in September. At the same time, Samsung's market share declined to 46% in November, down from about 60% as recently as October 2014.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Apple took more than half (51%) of smartphone sales in November, leading the report to conclude that "it is becoming increasingly difficult for competition to challenge Apple's dominance in near to mid-term".

This dominance is expected to continue in Japan, the report suggested, when the Apple Watch smart device is launched in this "highly advanced consumer market".

In China, iPhone sales reached a record monthly high, growing more than 45% annually in November, to take Apple's market share to above 12%. This ranked the company third behind Chinese vendors Lenovo and market leader Xiaomi.

The report said Apple's growth was driven by rich, urban consumers, who "quickly warmed to the bigger iPhone form-factors", and it expected sales data for December to show further rises as supply of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus improves.

However, Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, also forecast a "fierce battle" in the premium segment in China after Xiaomi launched its Note device, which is already winning comparisons to Apple.

Data sourced from Counterpoint Research, TechCrunch; additional content by Warc staff