Apple’s iPhone 6s is reportedly being outsold by the Samsung Galaxy S7 in the U.S., according to a report published by Kantar Worldpanel. The report states, in Q1 2016 (March to May), “Samsung accounted for 37% of smartphone sales and Apple 29%.” When we look at the sales figures of the companies’ flagship devices, the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge accounted for 16% of the total sales, whereas the iPhone 6s/6s Plus achieved 14.6% of the total sales.
Having said that, the report also notes that 5% of Samsung phone purchases come from those moving from an Apple device and, on the contrary, a much larger 14% of Samsung users are switching to the Apple iPhone. Furthermore, a majority of the buyers — 88% of current Apple users and 86% of current Samsung users — are loyal to their brand, and intend to repurchase and upgrade within their brand of choice.
Interestingly a band of Android blogs, championed by The Verge, is predominately highlighting the fact that the Galaxy S7 is outselling the iPhone 6s in the US, leading people to believe that Apple’s sales are slumping and it has to now worry about Samsung’s resurgence. However, that is far from the reality.
As a matter of fact, the Kantar Worldpanel report itself tries to highlight that the Apple versus Samsung war is overrated now. Kantar Worldpanel states in its report, “With high loyalty, slowing growth in developed markets, and Chinese brands leading the largest smartphone market in the world, Apple and Samsung have less to worry about from each other going forward—and much more to worry about from other competitors, and the changing landscape. In that landscape, what remains to be seen is how sales in those developing markets in Latin and South America and India buffet the standing of the big three brands.”
In an editorial for the AppleInsider, Daniel Eran Dilger argues that the Samsung Galaxy S7 was launched on March 11, this year, which gives it a six month advantage over the iPhone 6s — launched on September 25 last year. Dilger goes on to compare the sales figures of the phones during the launch period, which is only fair. He writes, “Samsung didn’t report official sales numbers, but is estimated to have shipped around 10 million S7 and S7 Edge models in the remaining three weeks of the March quarter, out of the 82 million smartphones IDC estimates that Samsung shipped in total. By way of comparison, at the weekend launch of iPhone 6s last Sept 25, Apple announced sales of over 13 million units across three days. In total, Apple sold 75 million iPhones in the launch quarter, the most it has ever sold.”
Looking at these figures, it is quite evident that Apple sold far more phones than Samsung did in its launch quarter.
Let’s go back to the Kantar Worldpanel report to understand the state of the smartphone market in China. The report states that in China, which is the world’s largest smartphone market, Samsung has fallen from a high of 34% market share in the quarter ending May 2014 to a mere 9% in the quarter ending May 2016. Moreover, the worrisome bit is that, unlike the Western markets where brand loyalty is actually a thing, in China, and in many other emerging markets, it is not the same, which is to say that the brand loyalty is low. To corroborate this with actual numbers, the report mentions, “For current top brand Huawei, just 19% of consumers were repurchasing the brand, while 24% switched over from Samsung. For Apple, 42% were repeat purchasers, and 25% came from Samsung.”
While the Samsung versus Apple debacle might never end, it is interesting to note that once popular brands like LG and HTC are nowhere to be seen. In fact, in the U.S., Samsung and Apple claim the entire top 10 list of smartphones sold, and LG phones only make it to the list when we expand the list to include the top 20.