The third quarter of 2011 marks a shift in the cell phone biz as Samsung takes the smartphone crown from Apple and China’s ZTE rises to become the world’s fourth-largest cell phone vendor by volume and Apple slides to fifth place. The bad news for Cupertino arrives just as the company for the first time in years missed Street expectations after shipping 17.07 million iPhones in the September quarter, a modest 21 percent annual growth and a notable 16 percent quarterly decline in units. As you recall, Apple in the June quarter sold 20.34 million iPhones, allowing them to beat Nokia and Samsung and become the world’s leading smartphone vendor, prompting Samsung to stop divulging smartphone and tablet shipments for competitive reasons.
Everyone was waiting for the new iPhone 4S.
Samsung today posted their quarterly earnings and they passed iPhone by an estimated ten million units. According to Reuters which cited a Strategy Analytics survey, Samsung shipped about 27.8 million smartphones, up nearly four times annually and 44 percent sequentially. This gave Samsung a 23.8 percent global market share in smartphones vs. 14.8 percent for Apple. Such a strong growth is attributed to their Galaxy smartphones, particularly the Galaxy S II model which sold ten million units in the five months since its introduction. Strategy Analytics attributed Samsung’s success to “a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution”, adding:
After just one quarter in the top spot, Apple slipped behind Samsung to second position and captured 15 percent share. Apple’s global smartphone growth rate slowed to just 21 percent annually in Q3 2011, its lowest level for two years. We believe Apple’s growth during the third quarter was affected by consumers and operators awaiting the launch of the new iPhone 4S in the fourth quarter, volatile economic conditions in several key countries, and tougher competition from Samsung’s popular Galaxy S II model.
Apple also slid to fifth place in Strategy Analytics’s worldwide cell phone rankings as ZTE shipped 18.5 million handsets for a five percent global market share. Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the October 4 iPhone 4S introduction that iPhone had five percent share of the global cell phone market, hinting at Apple’s phone strategy: