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Samsung dominates Q1 smartphone market as Apple sees ‘lowest growth rate ever’

Published Apr 26th, 2013 9:20AM EDT
Smartphone Market Share Q1 2013

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Vendors doing battle in the global smartphone market last quarter saw the distance grow between Samsung, the market leader, and the rest of the pack. Market research firm Strategy Analytics is always among the first to issue quarterly shipment estimates and now that Samsung’s Q1 results are on record, the firm has made its numbers for the March quarter available. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped an estimated 69.4 million smartphones globally in Q1, representing 56% growth over the year-ago quarter, to take a record 33% of the global smartphone market. The South Korea-based juggernaut grew nine times faster than Apple, which sold “a lackluster 37.4 million iPhones worldwide.” Apple’s market share fell to 17.9% in the first quarter from 22.8% in the same quarter last year.

The biggest surprise came from LG, which doubled its Q1 smartphone shipments to 10.3 million units and jumped into the No.3 spot globally. Huawei shipped an estimated 10 million smartphones in Q1 2013, ZTE shipped 9.1 million and Nokia slipped quietly into Strategy Analytics’ “others” category.

“Samsung grew 56 percent annually and shipped a record 69.4 million smartphones worldwide, capturing an all-time-high 33 percent marketshare in Q1 2013,” Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston said. “Samsung shipped almost two times more smartphones and grew nine times faster than Apple during the quarter. With the flagship Galaxy S4 model likely to be in high demand, provided there are no major component shortages, Samsung should continue to deliver strong smartphone volumes worldwide in the second quarter of the year. Apple shipped a lackluster 37.4 million iPhones worldwide in Q1 2013, up from 35.1 million a year earlier. Apple grew just 7 percent annually during Q1 2013, which was the iPhone’s lowest growth rate ever in its history.”

He continued, “Apple’s premium-only strategy for the iPhone is approaching a natural ceiling and it will need to expand deeper into large markets like China or launch a lower-priced iPhone model for mass-market users.”

“LG was a star performer as its global shipments doubled year-over-year to 10.3 million units and it became the world’s third largest smartphone vendor for the first time ever in Q1 2013,” Mawtson’s colleague Linda Sui added. “An improved Optimus portfolio and expanded distribution have been the main causes of LG’s success. However, LG is still facing strong headwinds in the huge US and China markets and these remain key challenges for the Korean vendor this year.”

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.