Apple’s LTE phones had strong 2013

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Apple’s LTE phones had strong 2013

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In the LTE smartphone market, Apple’s global sales for last year were ranked No. 1, overtaking Samsung Electronics by a narrow margin, the U.S. market research firm Strategy Analytics said yesterday.

Although Samsung narrowed the gap against Apple in its share of the LTE smartphone market last year compared to 2012, its LTE smartphone sales are relatively low compare to total smartphone sales.

Of the 153.4 million smartphones sold by Apple, LTE phones accounted for 61.7 percent. Samsung sold twice as many smartphones as Apple at 319.8 million units.

But the number of LTE smartphones it sold was less than that of Apple, accounting for 27.8 percent of total sales.

The average price of LTE smartphones is higher than for 3G smartphones, so they make a significant contribution to profits.

“While Samsung Electronics has various different models, from low-cost smartphones to high-end, Apple’s smartphone is basically a high-priced LTE model, except for the iPhone 5C,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Investment and Securities. “And even the iPhone 5C’s retail price is much higher than the low-cost smartphone models of Samsung. Thus, in terms of operating profit, Samsung is behind Apple, even though Samsung is the world’s largest smartphone vendor,”

Apple sold 94.6 million LTE smartphones last year, grabbing 37.8 percent of the LTE smartphone market, while Samsung sold 88.9 million units, accounting for 35.5 percent of the market.

The gap between the two companies has been narrowed to 2.3 percentage points from 3.4 percentage points.

The LTE smartphone market was dominated by Apple and Samsung last year, and the combined market share of the two companies reached 73.3 percent. That is 9.6 percentage points higher than in 2012.

Sony, the third-largest LTE phone vendor, had a 4.8 percent market share. LG had 4.5 percent and Nokia 3.2 percent.

LG Electronics saw its annual LTE smartphone sales surpass 10 million for the first time.

This year, the Chinese market is expected to become the greatest variable in the LTE smartphone market. More than 135 million LTE smartphones are expected to be sold in China this year.

Although Samsung is currently the No. 1 smartphone vendor in China, it is closely followed by Chinese makers such as Lenovo and Huawei as well as Apple.

According to the American market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), Samsung maintained its top position in the Chinese smartphone market in the fourth quarter of last year, grabbing 19 percent of the market.

However, the second-largest manufacturer, Lenovo, closed the gap by 1 percentage point in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter with 13 percent market share. The No. 3, Coolpad, and the fourth-largest smartphone maker, Huawei, all had more than 10 percent market share.

As the Chinese smartphone vendors continue to expand each quarter, Samsung Electronics’ market share was flat in the third and fourth quarter at 19 percent, according to IDC.

While Apple’s share in the world’s largest smartphone market stood at 6 percent in the third quarter of last year, it gained 1 percentage point in the final quarter with the launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C.

Now it is partnered with China Mobile, China’s largest wireless operator.

“When Apple cooperates with China Mobile, Apple’s LTE models could expand their market share in China,” said Lee Seung-woo, the IBK Investment and Securities analyst.

“In the second quarter, in particular, when Apple launches large screen smartphones, it could cast a direct threat to Samsung smartphones in the LTE market.”

BY kim jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]


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