THE BLOG

Samsung Breaks Global Smartphone Malaise, And Puts Apple In the Corner

23/08/2016 14:34 | Updated 23 August 2016

Gartner's latest smartphone figures cement Samsung as mobile maker of the hour.

The Korean manufacturer of the indisputably gorgeous Galaxy S7 Edge has seen unit sales growth increase in Q2 by 6.5% as Apple's dropped by -7.7%.

It's also lengthened its lead over Apple, to sell 32 million more phones than its biggest rival in Q2, compared to 24 million more the year before.

This is no mean feat when you consider that Gartner also reported worldwide smartphone sales in the last quarter of 2015 saw their slowest growth since 2008, and, a Kantar report earlier this year revealed mobile penetration in the US and Europe's Big Five Countries (EU5) had reached 91%.

When more than nine in 10 of us are wielding smartphones, it doesn't leave much opportunity for tech giants to find new takers. Sure, smartphones don't last forever, but many are now waterproof, dustproof and, if they aren't unbreakable, many of us dress them in shatterproof cases in case we drop them.

So a round of applause is due for Samsung, for breaking the global smartphone malaise. How has it done that? Simply by listening to us, and responding with a best-in-market flagship smartphone that ticks all the boxes.

What do we want? It's quite simple. A waterproof, design, long battery life, expandable memory, a great screen - and a good-looking design. The curved screen of the Edge is a rare thing - a design feature not really replicated by any other mobile maker (although once aped by BlackBerry).

Oh, and we also want to pay as little as possible. Samsung phones drop in price relatively quickly so that even their top-of-the-range handsets are able to compete in that incredibly competitive mid-range space, at a sub-£30 per month price point.

Let's contrast that with Apple, which has a very different story. Apple is locked into a holding pattern where it only releases a flagship iPhone worth writing home about every other year. In between we get something like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, with some refinements but not enough to prompt a mass upgrade.

iPhones are also expensive. With a new iPhone expected in a matter of weeks, prices for the iPhone 6S on contract are all still above £30 a month.

Apple has responded the need for a lower-priced phone by launching the iPhone SE to serve the mid-range sector. It looks rather like the iPhone 5S, only with current-day features.

Far from a flagship effort, the SE has so far served an effective purpose in shoring up the slowing sales for its flagship duo, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. It has definitely prevented a steeper fall from grace for Apple.

Even with a strategy of letting previous models percolate down from early adopters to mass market as prices erode, the addition of the SE to its line up has been crucial to Apple. It's now our second best-selling iPhone after the 6S and third best selling device overall on our site.

Therefore, Apple cannot be written off. The forthcoming launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (and possibly a third handset) will be an iterative upgrade, with the rumoured removal of a headphone jack and snappier internals.

Rather than creative bankruptcy, this marks the desire for Apple to buy itself a year of development and deliver something truly amazing, while marking the 10th anniversary since the launch of the original iPhone.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS