by Daniel Ashdown on July 26th, 2012
While Apple and Samsung continue to battle it out in the courts, the Korean giant has now firmly established itself as no.1 in the smartphone market after several quarters of duelling. Even with the annual iPhone event pencilled in for late-Q3/early-Q4, surely Apple will find it hard to claw back the near 20-point lead? The Galaxy S3 will be on sale for its first full quarter having sold a staggering 10 million in the month of June and, as we have said on a number of occasions, Samsung has set out its stall in a number of different markets price-wise.
The gap between Apple and the rest is also likely to grow further again in the next quarter, with sales of iPhones being constrained by many consumers undoubtedly waiting for the next iteration of the device which will inevitably boost sales. Indeed, HTC’s CEOPeter Chou has said his company experienced a “big drop in sales in the U.S. because of competition from the iPhone 4S”. What this illustrates is a point made by one leading vendor several months ago at an event we attended that consumers are often only choosing between two or three brands: it doesn’t matter how good your product is; most people will only seriously consider a few options – and at the top-end of the market, at the moment, this mainly seems to be between the current/next iPhone and a Galaxy S3.
HTC’s promising momentum last year appears to have stalled, but it is not just the handset manufacturers who are finding the market challenging. With Android and iOS ecosystems firmly established, the fact that shipments of Nokia’s Lumia reached just 4 million in Q2 with the Finnish company remains a long way off the pace, illustrates the scale of the task facing Windows Phone, and particularly version 8 due to be launched later this year. Nokia’s attractive, colourful casing designs and the touch-friendly tiles of Windows Phone 7 have not had as big an impact as they might in a fresher market. Furthermore the fact that current Lumia models won’t be compatible with Windows 8 has constrained sales.
So who is the best bet to challenge the Apple and Samsung stranglehold? We think Sony Mobile is one company which ticks a number of boxes: Android OS (like Samsung); global brand name (like Samsung), particularly in the US – a key market; and, establish Xperia brand of smartphones (like Samsung’s Galaxy cohort). Of course, as we have highlighted the smartphone market is intensifying, and this will only make it harder for whoever hopes to claw back their lead…