Android finished strong in 2013, with a rise in market shares in 12 key markets, according to Kantar WorldPanel, a market research subsidiary of WPP, while Apple slipped in almost all markets. Android had 69.5 percent in combined 12 key markets. Android’s continuing dominance in major markets has strengthened the position of Google, the developer of the Android platform. But there are some worrisome signs to Android phone manufacturers.
Samsung, the largest Android phone manufacturer, is facing increasing pressure from local Android phone manufacturers. In China, Xiaomi overtook Apple and Samsung as the top-selling phone manufacturer of December. Also, Samsung lost 2.2 percent in the European market.
The Korean giant is still the king of the Android world. It had 34 percent of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2013, and shipped 42.4 percent of global Android phone sales. In addition, the recent crossing license deal between Google and Samsung should alleviate the product development pressure on Samsung, as the deal puts two companies closer than ever and facilitates Samsung’s process to release new products, such as Samsung-Android wearable products. As Google Glass is gaining more momentum in the public eye, Samsung’s ability to access some of Google’s best wearable technology will position itself well against potential competitors with similar products. In return, when every other Android manufacturer struggles and Sony’s credit rating goes down to junk level along with LG’s inability to be profitable in the smartphone division, Samsung currently stands as the best bet for Google to hold or further increase Android’s global market appeal.
While the Android platform finished strong in 2013 in terms of market share, Apple slipped as it lost market in most of key regions. The Apple’s market share in the United States, the largest market for iPhone and iOS platform, decreased from 49.7 percent in 2012 from 43.9 percent in 2013. The Apple’s China market share also decreased from 21.2 percent in 2012 from 19 percent in 2013.
The biggest reason for Apple’s decline in market is that high-end Android phones usually have a bigger screen with more customization and more frequent software updates from Google. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, one of the best-selling premium smartphones, has a 5.7-inch screen while iPhone 5s has a 4-inch screen, and is selling cheaper than Apple’s counterpart in most regions.
Regardless, Apple still dominated Japan with 68.7 percent smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2013. In addition, China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator with about 760 million subscribers, finally allowed iPhone in its service, which Apple hopes will increase its market presence and sales in China. Apple has not lost its appeal to high-end users, who would pay for premium for services and products. And, as it predicted, Apple reported Jan. 27 that it had a record revenue of $57.6 billion, with $13.1 billion profit for the October-December quarter of 2013.
In addition, Microsoft’s Windows Phone has gained market shares across regions except in Latin America. It has had two-digit market share in Europe throughout the fourth quarter for 2013. With its acquisition of Nokia, there is a chance that the Windows Phone platform can capture more of the European market. But outside of Europe, Windows Phone has small market share with 1.1 percent in China. The market share increase can also be a reaction to rapid decline in BlackBerry. It is a long way for Microsoft to reverse the pattern repeated in 2013–that Android finishes strong while Apple slips.
By Jonathan JY Jung