A wake up call for Tim Cook? Samsung overtakes Apple in the smartphones market

A judge famously described Apple’s tablets as “cooler” than those of rivals Samsung. But it seems when it comes to smartphones, at least, consumers don’t agree.

According to analysts, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has overtaken iPhone in the last quarter to become the world’s bestselling smartphone but the Korean electronics giant’s win is set to be a short-lived one.

Figures from Strategy Analytics show shipments of the Galaxy S3 increased from 5.3m in the second quarter this year to a mammoth 18m in quarter three. Shipments of the iPhone 4S, previously the holder of the title of world’s bestselling smartphone, dropped from 19.4m to 16.2m during the same period.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 accounted for 11 per cent of all smartphones shipped worldwide. But, with Apple having also shipped 6m iPhone 5s, iPhone is expected to quickly overtake the Galaxy S3.

Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics, put the Galaxy S3’s success down to “a large touchscreen, extensive distribution and generous operator subsidies”.

He added: “Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has proven wildly popular with consumers and operators across North America, Europe and Asia.

“However, the Galaxy S3’s position as the world’s best-selling smartphone model is likely to be short-lived. The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6m units shipped globally during quarter three. We expect the new iPhone 5 to outship Samsung’s Galaxy S3 in the coming fourth quarter of 2012 and Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world’s most popular smartphone model.”

Samsung released the Galaxy S3 in May to much acclaim. Andrew Williams at Trusted Reviews said: “The giant screen of the Samsung Galaxy S3 makes it our top choice for web-browsing.” And CNET said: “The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a gorgeous 4.8-inch 720p resolution display, a deliciously slim and light casing and a super-powered quad-core engine. It’s the Ferrari of the Android circuit.”

The Korean firm has already released its own statistics, selling more than 30m handsets. It has easily soared past its predecessor, the Galaxy S2, which took 14 months to sell as many.

Apple hasn’t yet released full sales figures of its own for its new iPhone 5, which was launched in September, with fans queuing overnight at Apple stores to get their hands on the model.

It has however revealed it sold more than 5m in just the first three days of going on sale. The American firm has said sales figures would have been even bigger but it was unable to cope with the high demand.

At the moment, the iPhone 4S has 9.7 per cent of the market, with the iPhone 5 having a 3.6 per cent share.

And the models certainly have plenty of competition, with uSwitch telecoms expert Ernest Doku predicting an exciting time for the market in the run up to the lucrative Christmas period.

“The real excitement ahead of Christmas is the launch of Windows Phone 8 and new offerings from Samsung, HTC and Nokia all aiming to make an impact off the back of a huge Microsoft marketing campaign. What is in no question is that the pieces are coming into place for what will be an incredibly exciting winter for smartphone fans.”

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