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Samsung challenging Apple in European smartphone market, but iPhone a tough target

The first quarter of the year saw Samsung challenging Apple in the European smartphone market, retaking the No. 1 slot from the iPhone maker.

A new market intelligence report says that Samsung is now trying to adopt Apple’s strategy of focusing on premium sales and the ecosystem. However, it says competing with the iPhone won’t be easy …

Counterpoint opens its report with the bad news: Negative growth isn’t over yet.

Western Europe’s smartphone market faced a continued slump in Q1 2023, dropping 13% to 23.7 million units of shipments, as challenging economic conditions drove lower consumer demand and extended purchasing cycles.

The form sees no sign of that changing any time soon, but it is more optimistic about next year.

A glimmer of hope has appeared with Canalys’ latest forecast predicting a rebound of 6% growth in 2024, signaling a potential market revival.

The report notes that Samsung appears to be trying to copy Apple’s playbook.

Samsung has shifted its focus further toward the mid-to-high-end segment in Western Europe, motivated by better revenue drivers, higher profit margins and stronger potential for ecosystem integration,” said Runar Bjørhovde, Analyst at Canalys.

“According to Canalys estimates, in Q1 2023, Samsung’s average selling price rose by 11%, resulting in a 6% decline in the total value of devices shipped. Samsung has invested heavily in brand and product advertising, as well as in MDFs and co-marketing initiatives with operators and retail chains to strengthen its presence. These investments are also targeted at challenging Apple.

MDF stands for market development funds: money Samsung is paying carriers and retailers to promote its phones over those of rivals. This suggests that Samsung is still buying market share, which it has previously done by heavy discounting.

Apple, in contrast, has no need to engage in either.

According to Canalys Consumer Insights research, Apple remains the most resilient vendor in Western Europe, supported by the most loyal user base in the region combined with high popularity among switchers.

Photo: Anh Nhat/Unsplash

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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