Dialaphone Poll Sees Apple Named Most Popular Smartphone Manufacturer
Samsung is the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, having taken the top spot from Nokia earlier this year. Figures published in July by market research firm Strategy Analytics show that the Korean manufacturer shipped 50.5 million phones in the second quarter of 2012, following the release of the firm’s flagship Galaxy S III.
Nokia had held the title since as far back as 1998, almost an eternity in the world of mobile phones, with Motorola the previous holder. Despite the rise of popular, high-end smartphones from other manufacturers it was the Finnish firm’s plethora of feature phones and the popularity of such devices in the developing world which kept Nokia at the top.
With this in mind, the results of Dialaphone’s most recent poll have turned up something of a surprise. We asked our readers to choose their favourite smartphone manufacturer and, while Samsung is certainly popular, the electronics giant has finished a close second to Apple.
Despite being unable to boast quite the same sales figures as Samsung, Apple still moves a huge number of smartphones. According to the figures from Strategy Analytics, in the second quarter of 2012 the Cupertino-based firm sold 26 million iPhones worldwide, taking a market share of 17.8%.
However, Apple has something special that Samsung can’t yet quite match – a level of devotion from its customers that arguably exceeds that of any other technology firm. Even Samsung marketing executive Younghee Lee has admitted that “people are obsessed with Apple” and said that her firm wants to inspire the same level of devotion amongst consumers.
After successfully transferring the aesthetics of its computers to mobile phones, the Apple has gone on to become one of the leaders of the industry, with the iPhone’s distinctive, minimal, full-touchscreen appearance becoming standard within high-end smartphone design.
Apple’s latest handset, the iPhone 4S, has broken sales records and many expect the firm’s next iteration to do the same. What is possible is that this devotional following that the Cuprtino company attracts may alienate more casual consumers looking for a new smartphone and could affect Apple’s sales figures somewhat.
Also, in a strategy that is likely designed to give its devices an exclusive feel, the iPhone manufacturer doesn’t produce budget devices, a move which is also unlikely to attract new customers looking for entry level handsets. These are possible explanations for why Apple doesn’t quite match Samsung’s sales even if it is one of the few companies which can refer to people who buy its products as ‘fans’, rather than simply ‘customers’.
In spite of its inability to inspire the same devotion that Apple does, with a device like the Galaxy S III on its roster Samsung has certainly captured the imagination of mobile consumers recently, with the manufacturer itself claiming that it has been selling 190,000 units of the handset each day. The device’s quad-core processor, fantastic display and innovative UI have positioned it as arguably the world’s leading smartphone and taken Samsung’s profile to an even higher level than it was before.
However, it is not just high-end smartphones that have proved to be a success for the Korean firm, with trimmed-down, budget devices such as the the Galaxy Ace becoming very popular amongst mobile consumers not interested in splashing out on the more expensive handsets. The company has also created a niche market for itself with the creation of the Galaxy Note, a device dubbed a ‘phablet’ and which bridges the gap between smartphones and tablets. All of these factors have combined to generate unforeseen sales figures for the Korean firm.
Taking third place in our poll was HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer which has matched Samsung’s Galaxy S III by launching its own quad-core flagship, the One X. The device heads a series of phones including the One S and One V, spanning the smartphone spectrum from high-end to budget and equipping each with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Earlier this year, HTC made the decision to stop including the number of handsets sold in its quarterly financial statements, possibly suggesting that numbers might not be as high as the firm would like. If this is indeed the case, it’d no doubt come as a disappointment to both the company and industry watchers alike since the manufacturer produces excellent devices which steer clear of flamboyant, headline-grabbing features and instead focus on good design, build quality and performance.
Nokia came next in our poll, with one of the mobile world’s oldest and most recognisable names still drawing a respectable share of the vote. As mentioned earlier, Nokia was until recently the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, but its earlier success hasn’t fully been carried through to the age of the smartphone.
Whilst Nokia’s range of Lumia phones look great, the devices have suffered from not being particularly high-spec, something that could have affected sales. Whilst the Finnish firm’s collaboration with Microsoft has produced some excellent handsets, the Windows Phone operating system has not been widely adopted by consumers. In fact, an unnamed executive from a European carrier told Reuters that “No-one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone” in a recent article exploring networks’ approach to Nokia’s strategy.
Microsoft is set to release Windows Phone 8 towards the end of this year but is coupling up with several manufacturers to produce devices running the platform, by no means giving Nokia any sort of exclusive grip on the OS. With sales of the Lumia range being far off those achieved by Apple and Samsung, it seems that the Finnish manufacturer is more of a niche prospect where smartphones are concerned.
Making up the rest of the placings were Huawei, Motorola, RIM, ZTE and LG, with a spattering of votes being awarded to each. Good news for Huawei and ZTE, who’s small number of handsets have clearly gained some recognition amongst consumers, but bad for Motorola and RIM especially.
Motorola’s prospects may have looked up recently following the purchase of the firm’s mobile arm by Google, but it seems that the search giant wasn’t so much after handsets as it was patents. Documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that almost half of the $ 12.4b price tag that Google paid was due to patents owned by Motorola, specifically those that relate to LTE networks.
RIM used to lead the mobile world, with its BlackBerry range being hugely popular amongst both its initial corporate clients and a wider, casual consumer base. However, the company’s fortunes have taken a downturn of late and its market share has fallen. There is hope with the BB10 operating system set to launch early next year but for now, RIM isn’t as popular as it once was.
So Apple’s dedicated fan base has won the contest, even if the firm can’t quite match Samsung’s global sales figures. Our results reflect the decline in popularity of Nokia and RIM, but both manufacturers are drawing up plans which could reverse this trend in the future. Meanwhile, Apple and Samsung continue to capture the imagination of the mobile-buying public and push sales figures into realms that have never been seen before.