Samsung struggles in 5 biggest phone markets

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Samsung struggles in 5 biggest phone markets

A flag with a Samsung logo is hung on the Samsung Electronic's headquarters located in Seocho-district, southern Seoul. [NEWS1]

A flag with a Samsung logo is hung on the Samsung Electronic's headquarters located in Seocho-district, southern Seoul. [NEWS1]

 
For the past nine years, Samsung Electronics has never lost its crown as the No. 1 smartphone maker in the world. And yet, the company is struggling in all five of the world’s biggest phone markets by population, feeling the power of its rising Chinese competitors.
 
Based on data compiled by global research firms Counterpoint Research, StatCounter and Canalys, Samsung’s smartphones are No. 1 in market share in Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico, all important markets.  
 
But it is not No. 1 in the five biggest phone markets by population — China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Pakistan — which combined account for more than half of the world’s population.  
 
China, India and the United States are the world’s top three smartphone markets in unit terms, followed by Brazil and Russia.
 
Samsung's presence in China remains minimal. In 2013, it had 19 percent of the Chinese market, but as of late 2019, Samsung’s market share in China was hovering around 1 percent. Most market reports even strip out its market share, lumping Samsung's sales in the “Others” category. Huawei remains the invincible leader in its home country with market share of 37 to 40 percent, according to research firms.  
 
Samsung’s foothold in India is not what it used to be as well. The company used to compete for first or second place in the world’s second-largest phone market in unit terms. According to Counterpoint, its market share in the first quarter of 2020 was 16 percent, behind China’s Xiaomi (30 percent) and Vivo (17 percent).  
 
Its market share in the United States is also on a gradual decline. During the fourth quarter of 2019, Counterpoint ranked Samsung second in the market with a 20 percent share behind No. 1 Apple (49 percent). The research firm has not yet updated U.S. figures, but data from another research firm, StatCounter, shows Samsung’s market share declined from 27 percent last December to 23.9 percent in April. During the same period, Apple strengthened its No. 1 position, going from 55.6 percent to 61.3 percent.
 
Samsung’s performance in Indonesia, the fourth most populated country in the world, is harder to grasp. Different research firms have different views. IDC says Samsung was third with 19.4 percent market share as of the third quarter of 2019, behind China’s Oppo (26.2 percent) and Vivo (22.8 percent). Canalys, however, says the Korean company was second with a 21.2 percent share, following Oppo at 22.7 percent. Counterpoint places Samsung in first place with a 22 percent share.  
 
Regardless of those differences, its recent performance is lower than in the golden days. In 2017, it had a 30 percent share of the market.  
 
Chinese brands are also strong in Pakistan, where 80 million of the population of 220 million own smartphones. According to Canalys, Pakistan’s first and second largest smartphone vendors last year were Oppo and Samsung. Huawei and Vivo followed next. PhoneWorld, a Pakistani IT news outlet, reported that in the country’s three largest cities, Oppo was the most widely used with 23 to 24 percent market share. Samsung’s was 20 to 21 percent.  
 
However, the Korean electronics maker’s presence remains strong in markets below the top five. In Brazil, the world’s sixth-largest country with a population of 213 million, Samsung had a 46.8 percent market share last month. According to the same StatCounter database, Motorola was second with 23.3 percent and Apple third with 10.8 percent.  
 
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest smartphone market and is the seventh-largest country in the world by population. Samsung is No. 2 with an 18.6 percent market share behind China’s Transsion's 40.6 percent. In Bangladesh, Samsung is first with a 16.1 percent market share, ahead of local phone maker Symphony’s 15.5 percent. In Russia and Mexico, the ninth and tenth most populated countries in the world, Samsung retains the No. 1 spot.
 
BY KIM TAE-YOON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]    
 
 
 
 
 

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