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Summary:

Smartphone shipments eclipsed those of feature phones for the first time ever, says IDC. Who’s the current smartphone king, based on the numbers? Samsung is, with a strategy that started in 2010.

Galaxy S 4 featured

For the first time ever, more smartphones than feature phones shipped globally. Research firm IDC shared its data in a report on Friday, noting this historical highlight: of the 418.6 million handsets shipped during the first quarter of 2013, 216.2 million where smartphones. And in the battle for smartphone supremacy, Samsung stole the show, shipping 70.7 million smartphones to Apple’s 37.4 million.

As these companies battle for the top spot, it’s interesting to note which competitors aren’t on the top five smartphone shipments list. Namely: HTC, BlackBerry and Nokia, all of which were on the list together as recently as the last quarter of 2011. Now it’s LG, Huawei and ZTE that round out the top five after Samsung and Apple.

It should be noted that Apple is the only vendor that reports sales and not shipments, but even that fact doesn’t support the idea that Apple outsold Samsung. It’s simply not a reasonable expectation that Samsung has 33.3 million smartphones sitting around in inventory worldwide.

Unless Samsung stumbles in a big way, it’s not likely that another Android handset maker will outsell Apple’s iPhone any time soon. For all intents and purposes, Samsung is the de facto Android standard, having built a huge audience with its line of Galaxy smartphones. This strategy started in 2010 and, as we pointed out in mid-2011, Samsung was poised to become the smartphone king. Let’s see how long it keeps the crown.

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  1. an interesting thing has happened lately. i own a small cell phone store and i am starting to see customers(newbie’s to smartphones) coming in asking about ‘galaxy’ phones as if they are a type of phone. they ask in the same manner that a year ago the most common term a new comer would use was ‘droid’

    some of these people have no idea galaxy phones run android. i have even had a couple people ask me to explain the difference between a galaxy and a droid. part of this is related to another trend i see which is to call all non-apple touchscreen phones droids. for example i hear people call windows phones ‘microsoft droids’

  2. Shipped versus Sold:

    I think there is much misunderstanding in this area. Samsung when it ships the phone out to retailers or distributors lets say in Europe or to ATT or to corner shop in India, do you think it ships them without getting paid for them? No! So yes, shipped is sold in this case!

    Then what is the number that should be noted, is how much have actual bought from these retailers or distributors. That will basically determine how well retailers are managing their business by guessing correctly what consumers will buy and if they are actually placing correct orders to Samsung.

    Until iPhone came along, you actually didn’t need internet to pop in a SIM card to start using the phone. Its only after iPhone came out that you have to actually create a account which is then your phone account with Apple or Samsung or Google. Now this action of creating account give you activation number and hence a more better understanding of how much has sold through the channel… there is IT system in the corner shop of India or China which sells GS4. So there is no IT record of how much is sold through. Only way to know that is by knowing how many got activated.

    Majority almost as high as more than 2/3rd of Apples sales are via its own retail, franchised retail or operator retail, so its easy for it have till last digit sold number to consumers as Apple makes it mandatory via retail channels is most places to have IT system linking and detailing the number sold. So that’s why Apple is never asked the question of channel inventory…. because they have the data to manage it lean enough. That’s why Samsung, Sony, LG, Nokia, Motorola, ZTE etc all have been asked questions about channel inventory except for Apple.

    So this judgement of Samsung is reporting shipped not sold is kind of stupid. Obviously Samsung cannot called them sold because they don’t know how many have actually bought their devices from retailers. They cannot lie! So they say shipped.

    This misunderstanding in tech blogging community has been bugging me for a while and this was the last straw which drew this rant! Sorry about that!

    1. I meant “there is IT NO system in the corner shop of India or China”

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