Data & Research

Apple and Samsung take $90 of every $100 of global smartphone profits

ABI Research also points to greater-than 50% market share for the quasi-duopoly

Apple and Samsung take $90 of every $100 of global smartphone profits
Smartphone shipments grew 41% year-over-year to 144.6 million in the quarter ending March 2012, according to the number crunchers at ABI Research.

But don’t expect your contacts at the handset manufacturers to be turning cartwheels at this news – unless they work for Apple or Samsung.

For all the joint ventures, improved software, and lower pricepoints being explored by Apple and Samsung's rivals, the lattertwo companies remain by far the frontrunners in the worldwide transition to smartphones.

ABI's analysts found that Samsung and Apple devices constituted 55% of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2012 – and over 90% of the profits generated by the market.

Nokia going nowhere fast

Of all the top ten smartphone OEMs, only Samsung and Sony experienced sequential growth in shipments over the fourth quarter of 2011.

Apple 'suffered' as sales dipped very slightly from its blockbuster fourth quarter iPhone 4S launch, with shipments dropping from 37 million to around 35 million in Q1.

In stark contrast, former handset darling Nokia went sharply backwards, with ABI reporting a 40% sequential decline in its smartphone shipments.

Indeed it predicts Nokia may soon be overtaken by floundering RIM, even despite the BlackBerry maker’s own 20% sequential decline in shipments.

“At this point in the year, Nokia will have to grow its Windows Phone business 5000% in 2012 just to offset its declines in Symbian shipments,” says Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI.

Chinese takeaway

Is there anything the rest of the industry can do to upset what's already a lucrative applecart turning into a long-term gravy train for Apple and Samsung?

Focus on China, suggests ABI.

“As Nokia’s market share in China plummets, the competition to fill this power vacuum has the potential to make or break smartphone OEMs currently struggling with profitability and differentiation,” says Jeff Orr, an ABI director.

In North America and Western Europe, smartphones are already passing the 50% penetration mark. But ABI points out that expansion in China continues with no sign of saturation, with smartphone shipment growth there coming in at over 80%.

China presents its own challenges, of course, not least strong competition from local vendors ZTE and Huawei. These companies have already built their own smartphone ecosystems that are specifically designed around the lower price points needed to drive growth in the Chinese market.