Apple steals Samsung’s phone crown in Q4

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Apple steals Samsung’s phone crown in Q4

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Apple overtook Samsung Electronics as the world’s No. 1 smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter as a result of the flaming out of the Galaxy Note7 phablet, according to data from market researcher Strategy Analytics on Tuesday.

Samsung sold 77.5 million smartphones in the October-December period last year to claim 17.7 percent of the global market, down 5 percentage points from a year earlier.

For all of 2016, Samsung had a 21 percent share, its lowest level since 2011 but the largest piece of the smartphone pie.

“Samsung lost momentum in the quarter as a result of its Note7 battery fiasco,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

Apple, on the other hand, saw its share climb 5 percentage points over the same period to 17.8 percent of the global smartphone market pie, which was the iPhone’s best performance for over a year. The company sold 78.29 million iPhones including its latest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus during the quarter, about 4 million more than its previous quarterly record.

The American tech giant announced Tuesday it posted record quarterly revenues of $78.4 billion and record quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.36 in the last three months of 2016, or its first fiscal quarter. The results compare to revenue of $75.9 billion and earnings per diluted share of $3.28 a year ago. They also signified an impressive turnaround from the previous three months, when Apple reported its first drop in revenue and profit in 15 years.

Three vendors in the top five ranks were from China, unchanged from a year ago. But the combined market share for those three players - Huawei, Oppo and Vivo - surged 7.6 percent in a year to post 15.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. They are now an even more formidable threat to both Samsung and Apple. Oppo and Vivo have yet to enter Korea.

“Oppo has grown swiftly in China with popular Android models such as the R9,” said Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics. “Oppo’s next challenge in 2017 is to expand beyond China and continue its momentum in emerging regions like India and Nigeria.”

LG Electronics shipped 14.1 million smartphones in the last quarter of 2016 and saw its share slide 8 percent on year to a mere 3 percent. It ranked as the world’s ninth largest smartphone vendor.

Mawston noted that in a few weeks, Samsung will be banking on the Galaxy S8 model to reignite growth and hopefully regain market share. Samsung is said to be planning to unveil the upcoming model on March 29 in New York and will begin shipping the phone in mid April.

But then attention will shift to Apple’s iPhone 8 later this year, which will also be a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the birth of the iPhone.

The new model is rumored to feature a radical redesign, including the removal of its home button and a flurry of new technologies.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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