Why Apple became the leader in the mobile phone market for the first time since 2010

The mobile communications market is finally growing after two years of declining sales. But the news that the sector had been waiting for like water in May was almost eclipsed by a last-minute surprise that few expected.

Thanks to the final sprint during the Christmas campaign, Apple became the best-selling mobile brand of 2023as seen in sales data published by analysts such as IDC and Canalys.

The California-based company hasn’t been the best-selling smartphone brand since 2010. Until 2023, the number one manufacturer by units was South Korea’s Samsung, but fourth-quarter data moved it to second position in the global anus count.

Why there is a market for dual-speed mobile phones and it is no longer so important to sell more, but more expensively

According to the IDC report, Apple sold 234.6 million iPhones last year, up 3.7%. than in the previous year. The fourth quarter was the company’s best quarter, with sales of 80.5 million and growth of 11.6% over 2022 figures.

After 12 years at the head of the mobile market, Samsung becomes second. The South Korean manufacturer shipped 226.6 million smartphone units, down 13.6% from 2022, putting it 8 million phones behind Apple.

It’s typical for Apple to overtake Samsung in the fourth quarter due to its proximity to the launch of iPhones due in September, but the 2023 surprise is a bomb that solidifies the American brand’s position at a high level. the time at which she was interrogated.

Business Insider Spain Below we look at the huge implications of the changing of the guard in the global mobile market.

What was Apple’s growth in 2023?

Apple iPhone 15 series.
Apple iPhone 15 series.


The iPhone hasn’t been king of the market since 2010, and the truth is that the market has changed a lot since then.

At the time, the dominant operating system was iOS (courtesy of Symbian), while Android was still prevalent. According to Statcounter, in January, 33% of the world’s mobile phones used Apple’s system, while less than 6% of operating systems ran Google’s software.

But now the situation is completely different, and Android has significantly overtaken the number of users: 70.5% of mobile users compared to 28.8% of iPhone users.

Despite this, the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, which has many brands (Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Honor, Google, Motorola, TCL, Realme…), has allowed Apple to rise to the top again.

According to analyst IDC, iOS penetration in Spain stood at 13% in units in 2017 and is approaching 20% ​​before the 2023 data closes. In value terms in 2017 it was 28% and already about 50% in 2023.

Reasons for iPhone’s first place

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, at the iPhone 15 presentation


The first reason that allowed Apple to rise to the top of the mobile market is growing popularity of high-end.

As Counterpoint data shows, the market share above $600 has tripled in just 8 years: in 2016, it barely accounted for 6% of total sales, while last year it accounted for about 24%.

The customer does not need to change his mobile phone as often as the new features are minor., thereby paying more attention to expensive devices. By doing this, you benefit from good after-sales service, ease of use, greater security, etc. And we all know that these are Apple’s strengths,” assures Iñaki Martínez de Lizarrondo, IDC analyst in Spain.

Another reason for success is not in increasing sales, but in convincing users to choose iPhone as their next purchase.

“Loyalty to the Apple ecosystem has played a critical role in customer retention in 2023,” emphasizes Selva Orejon, CEO of onBranding and professor at EAE Business School.

And this is largely due to a consistent and clear strategy for both the end consumer and the distribution channel.

“Apple has been incredibly consistent over the 17 years since the launch of the first iPhone. It was the only brand that was so consistent, long-term oriented, consistent with the brand and the catalogue,” says Runar Björhovde, analyst at Canalys. .

The remaining reasons are not positive for the market, and experts warn about lack of innovation that has been introduced for several years among mobile device manufacturers. Something bad for the sector, but in this case it might have benefited in 2023, although the long-term performance is not so good.

“The lack of technological breakthroughs coupled with the quality of the devices means that overall sales are declining. On the other hand, Apple is having problems in China, which means their profits have also declined. The market base has increased, but profits have declined. The bottom line is that perhaps this growth is not sustainable,” warns Martínez de Lizarrondo.

Analysts also highlight additional factors that explain Apple’s defeat from Samsung: more aggressive marketing campaigns, including for models from previous years; alliance with operators to sell iPhones in installments; and the growth of the refurbished device market, in which Apple leads by a wide margin over other brands.

“Little by little, the iPhone has become a mobile phone for everyone, without losing its desired focus,” sums up the IDC Spain expert.

Samsung becomes second: what’s good about its new strategy…

Samsung unveils Galaxy S23


Samsung’s loss of top position in the mobile market in 2023 could be interpreted as a setback for the South Korean company, but it coincides with a largely related shift in strategy in its mobile catalogue.

Being one of the companies that released the largest number of mobile phones per year, Over the past two years, Samsung has been reducing the number of launches and recently simplified its general catalog.

Most notably, the company is increasingly focusing on the high and mid-range, with higher starting prices and fewer and fewer entry-range models priced below 200 euros, traditionally those that have the most sales but also offer fewer benefits.

By reducing its presence among the cheapest mobile phones on the market, Samsung has reduced its market share but also increased the average price that users pay for their smartphones.

They have maintained revenue but are selling more expensive devices.. And this is a logical consequence of the fact that the buyer is looking for better terminals with a longer service life, and Samsung is no longer focusing on short range,” says Martínez de Lizarrondo.

Another positive implication of the brand’s direction comes from the recent launch of the Galaxy S24 series, as Samsung is one of the brands that has joined the trend of artificial intelligence in its smartphones the most.

“The smartphone market is at a turning point. A recovery is expected in 2024 due to improved global economic conditions and growing interest in technological innovations such as foldable smartphones and artificial intelligence capabilities.“, emphasizes Selva Orejon.

…and it’s not very good to be second

Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs Samsung Galaxy S23

But there is also a bad side to Samsung.

The first of the negative points coincides, as the growing importance of the ecosystem and AI could become a problem for the South Korean brand, according to other experts.

“Samsung is committed to positioning itself well for the long term. (…) If software and services are the future, Samsung may have problems because historically this has not been its specialty.”– says Runar Bjorhovda.

The shift in strategy towards upper mid-range and premium models could also mean other negative consequences for Samsung.

“Product margins are higher, but the elasticity of this part of the market (high-end) is lower. Customers buy these devices but may not upgrade them as often. First of all, those who bought them in installments. “, emphasizes the IDC Spain analyst.

At the same time, a decrease in units was observed in 2023, in which Smartphones were sold 4% less than last yearshows that the sector is not going through its best moment.

“Smartphones are moving into a situation where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a profit, something similar to what happened with PCs 20 years ago. The smartphone industry is no longer the most attractive technology industry, now artificial intelligence“Adds Björhovde.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button