Samsung continues to dominate shrinking smartphone market, Apple remains the profit king - PhoneArena

Samsung continues to dominate shrinking smartphone market, Apple remains the profit king

Samsung continues to dominate shrinking smartphone market, Apple remains the profit king
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it wasn't exactly shocking to see global smartphone sales decline last year compared to 2019, but after the mobile industry started to recover during the final quarter of 2020, not many people expected the market to contract once again as early as Q3 2021. 

Unfortunately for the vast majority of top handset vendors, the "chipset famine" arrived to cause OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) even more trouble than the deadly virus that halted all smartphone production activity in many countries last year.

According to Canalys analysts, there's no end in sight for the radical component shortages of the past few months, which are unlikely to "ease until well into 2022", thus being expected to impact worldwide smartphone shipments for at least a couple more quarters after leading to a 6 percent year-on-year dip in the July - September timeframe.

No big changes at the top of the vendor table

If Q2 2021 was notable as the first quarter with Xiaomi in second place around the globe, Q3 sees the industry return to its long-standing status quo from a vendor standpoint. 

Of course, an important shift did take place between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, as Huawei, which was last year's silver medalist, is now nowhere to be found among the world's five biggest smartphone manufacturers.


But compared to Q1 2021, for instance, the hierarchy is largely unchanged, with Samsung holding a comfortable lead over arch-rival Apple, Xiaomi closely following in third, and Vivo and Oppo essentially tied in fourth.

While Canalys is not ready to reveal any specific unit shipment figures for the purposes of this new report, it's definitely interesting to note that Apple registered the biggest market share gain among these five major companies, jumping from 12 to a 15 percent slice of the pie since last year's third calendar quarter.

Although the iPhone 13 family's "strong early demand" is credited as the main driver of that pretty significant growth, it's also no big secret that the global chip shortage impacted Cupertino to a much smaller degree than the competition... so far. It remains to be seen how smartphone manufacturers will continue to deal with these issues, but delays, long waiting times, and perhaps worst of all, less attractive Black Friday promotions than usual are to be expected.

Apple's profit and revenue supremacy is as towering as always

A separate new report published by Counterpoint Research analyzes the smartphone market from a slightly different angle, looking at the correlation between shipments, revenue, and profit for the top six vendors over the last couple of years and finding that one of those three rankings has stayed constant from Q1 2019 all through Q2 2021.

In a nutshell, Apple has been copiously dominating the global handset operating profit chart throughout this timeframe, holding an incredible 62 percent advantage over silver medalist Samsung as it captured no less than three thirds of the industry's net financial gains recorded during this year's second quarter.

Believe it or not, that 75 percent slice of the pie is lower than the 86 percent profit share registered by Apple at its Q4 2020 peak while easily eclipsing the 51 percent number reported in Q3 2020, which was the last time Samsung got (relatively) close to the world heavyweight champion.

Obviously, the gap between Apple and Samsung in the smartphone revenue hierarchy is not quite as dramatic, but Counterpoint's, well, point stands, as the industry shift was not really significant from that standpoint in the last few years either.

That's in strong contrast to the global shipment chart, which is "constantly" changing due to seasonal product launches and Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei's primary focus on that particular indicator of success. But Xiaomi, for one, is trying to gain ground in both revenue and profit nowadays, especially on the old continent, and while Apple's dominance is most likely in no immediate danger, Samsung may need to start worrying. 

Then again, Counterpoint analysts expect to see "several more quarters of status quo" before anyone can hope to exact some sort of meaningful change.

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