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Sizing Up the Smartphone Giants as Samsung Reaches a New High

Samsung outpaces Apple in global shipments, but trails in the US

August 19, 2016

Samsung Electronics’ stock value has jumped this year, and on Thursday it reached an all-time high, capping an increase of more than 30% for the year. That makes the company worth roughly $210 billion. By comparison, Apple is worth well more than $500 billion, more than twice as much.

Top 5 Smartphone Brands Worldwide, Ranked by Shipments, Q2 2015-Q2 2016 (millions of units)

Key to revenues at both companies are smartphone sales. Samsung ships more smartphones each quarter than any other manufacturer in the world, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). In Q2 of this year, for example, Samsung shipped 77.0 million smartphones around the world. Apple, in second place, shipped 40.4 million.

For Samsung, that figure was a year-over-year increase of about 4 million units, or 5.4%—but for Apple it represented a drop of nearly 15%.

According to comScore, Apple still holds sway in the US in terms of installed base of smartphone users, however.

Apple vs. Samsung Share of US Smartphone Users, June 2013-June 2016 (% of total)

As of June 2016, comScore reported, more than 43% of smartphones in the hands of US consumers were Apple devices. While that figure was down slightly since a year earlier, it also represented an increase in share since 2013.

Samsung had a smaller share of US smartphone users, at 29.2% in June 2016, but showed notably more growth over the same period. US smartphone users were 5.5 percentage points more likely to have a Samsung device in mid-2016 than they had been in mid-2013, which translates to an increase in share of about 23%.

eMarketer estimates that 43.5% of US smartphone users are iPhone users this year, up slightly from 42.3% in 2014. eMarketer does not break out estimates by manufacturer, but only by OS. Samsung devices fall under the Android umbrella; all Android smartphones together account for 52.0% of users’ devices this year.

Despite these small gains in smartphone user share in the US (as well as the UK), Apple has reported falling iPhone sales this year, causing its stock to gyrate. This week, Target announced that sales of Apple products were down in its stores, causing shares to slide. The iPhone 7 is slated for release this fall, but analysts are not sure consumers will see a reason to upgrade. Feature improvements are reportedly minor, and regardless, most users wait years to upgrade.

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