Apple leaps ahead of Samsung

2014 may be remembered as the year when smartphone sales moved past the $1 billion mark, but the final quarter of the year will be remembered when Apple beat Samsung in the race for the top selling smartphone company.

Samsung has had the lead since 2011 and Apple has finally managed to catch up. According to the stats published by Gartner, Samsung has its work cut out if it is to catch Apple once more.

In the final quarter of 2014 around 367.5 million smartphones were sold, and iPhone beat Samsung by selling 75 million phones compared to Apple’s 73 million. The margin may seem a slight one but in terms of annual figures it is massive.

iPhone 6 comeback

In 2013 Samsung was well ahead of Apple, selling well over 83 million smartphones, while iPhone came short and managed to cross only the 50 million mark. However in 2014 Apple made an excellent comeback thanks mainly to the iPhone 6.

“Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013,” writes Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

“This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure.”

Other names that made significant strides during that time period were Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei. Xiaomi managed to triple its profits compared to its sales in 2013.

Just to give context to the rivalry between Samsung and Apple, it is important to go back a bit. Here is a look at the timeline of events that made this rivalry what it is now.

Applve vs Samsung- Timeline  (interactive)
Experts are wondering what would be the next step for Samsung to stop this landslide. Gartner believes that a simple solution may be to use a more exclusive and unique approach when it comes to handsets. An approach not too far from how Apple and Xiaomi work.

Open-ended operating system Samsung’s downfall

“With Apple dominating the premium phone market and the Chinese vendors increasingly offering quality hardware at lower prices, it is through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market,” writes Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

The argument put forward by most experts is that Apple stands alone when it comes to having a smartphone running iOS, but with android being an open ended operating system there are countless smartphones available that offer pretty much similar features to Samsung’s flagship product Galaxy.  Not to mention the smaller brands are a fraction of the cost of Samsung’s smartphones.

There is a bit of irony in this, because having an open-ended phone and an OS that can be used on almost any device was the unique selling point for Samsung, but it has become the biggest cause of its downfall.

The other obvious but important factor to point out is that other than the cheaper android phone available in the market, Samsung still has giants like Lenovo, and LG to compete with.

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