There's good and bad news to be found in the latest statistical breakdown of "smart mobile device" shipments by independent analyst firm Canalys who notes that in Q1 2013, 308.7 million mobile devices were shipped. The analysis considers smart mobile devices to consist of notebooks, tablets and smartphones. Apple, Samsung and Microsoft were the winners in specific areas.
The good news is that Apple continues to be the leader in the tablet sector with their iPad. In total, the tablet market continued to grow the fastest. Worldwide, tablet shipments grew at 106.1% to 41.9 million units. While Apple continued their lead in the tablet space with a 46.4% share, the report notes that tablets from Android makers continued to nibble away at Apple's iPad dominance.
The bad news, if you view it that way, is that Apple's iOS, with absolutely no distribution beyond its own products, is losing more ground to Google's Android OS which is behind a dozen or more distributors each with multiple products. Apple's total market share for smart mobile devices in Q1 stood at 19.3% while Android based devices took the lion's share with 59.5%.
Pete Cunningham, Canalys Principal Analyst stated that "Despite its slowing growth, Apple still shipped over 37 million iPhones," yet added that "HTC and Samsung have raised the bar with their latest handsets and Apple needs to respond with its next iPhone. The iPhone user interface is now six years old and badly in need of a refresh. Hardware-wise, the biggest dilemma that Apple faces is what it does with the size of the display on the next iPhone. It cannot afford to ignore the trend for larger displays in premium smart phones. We expect an increase on the iPhone 5's 4" display but are not anticipating a "Phablet"-style iPhone."
Samsung's worldwide strength in the quarter centered on smartphones, grabbing 32% market share, growing a stunning 64% over the year. Even though it was Apple that grabbed 70% of Global smartphone profits, the units shipped award goes to Samsung.
While the Canalys analyst pointed to the iPhone's lack of a 5" display as a key factor for Apple's slumping numbers, reality is that Apple's distribution of the iPhone is what likely drags it's "shipment" numbers down more. On Monday we posted a report titled "There's a Business Case to be made for an Economical iPhone." In that report we pointed to the fact that Apple's wireless distribution stood at about 240 carriers worldwide out of a possible 800 worldwide. In contrast, Samsung distributes their entire line-up of smartphones into every one of these 800 carriers. If Apple addresses this gap with a new mid-range iPhone, they'll likely be able to reinvent the requirements that they set for wireless carriers and at minimum double the amount of wireless carriers selling the iPhone worldwide. That would go a long way in competing with competitors selling Android devices.
Statistics are snapshot of what's occurring in the industry and the sooner that Apple can push further into the global wireless carrier system, the better Apple will do in terms of raw statistics. And knowing Apple, their mid-range iPhone will be priced to move yet remaining profitable.
As a side note, having a second tier of iPhone's to sell, Apple could technically hold two iPhone events per year with one of them designed to stem the wave of publicity that Samsung and others overly enjoy coming out of the World Mobile Congress each year. The market is rapidly changing and Apple's one iPhone event per year marketing plan may have to be re-examined.
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