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Samsung Ousts Apple As Largest Smartphone Manufacturer (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

Samsung Ousts Apple As Largest Smartphone Manufacturer (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

Just a couple of short months ago, Apple took on the title of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, but now, according to the Wall Street Journal, they have just been dethroned by Samsung, who shipped 20 million smartphones compared to Apple’s 17.1 million.

While this seems pretty significant at first, it’s really not as big of a deal as it sounds like. At all. And there are a number of reasons why it doesn’t matter, and why Apple is poised to kick some serious but in the coming months.

iPhone 4 & The Rumor Rundown

Samsung benefitted significantly from the fact that everybody was expecting Apple to release a new iPhone. As a result of this, and with various rumors hyping the upcoming device in a tremendous manner, many smartphone purchasers held off on buying an iPhone to see what Apple would come up with. This was likely a very significant factor in Apple’s sales last quarter, which were still at an all-time high, but failed to meet Wall Street expectations.

Two Phones Versus Twenty-Four

It’s also worth noting that while Apple was offering two phones for sale last quarter (the iPhone 3GS & the iPhone 4), Samsung’s website lists no less than 24 current smartphone models across a much wider number of wireless carriers (the 4 major carriers plus several smaller ones) that could be compared to the iPhone (smartphones with HTML web browsers). It’s hardly fair to compare the sales numbers for 24 separate smartphone models to the sales numbers of just two.

Shipments vs. Sales (or How Samsung Fudged the Numbers)

It’s also extremely notable that, while Samsung’s number of 20 million refers to shipments, Apple’s number refers to actual sales into the distribution channel. The fact that Samsung pushed just under three million more devices into their channel inventory than Apple is a bit less significant than Samsung means it to sound.

The iPhone 4S & Apple’s New Reduced Prices

Finally, despite the numbers from last quarter, Apple is poised to make a tremendous comeback in the coming months. Apple has just released the iPhone 4S, which has been one of, if not the most successful device to ever launch. The iPhone 4S has set new records with Apple, AT&T and Sprint in terms of sales and activations.

In addition to the iPhone 4S, Apple has reduced the price of the iPhone 4 to just $99 on contract, and has made the iPhone eGS a free phone with a 2-year contract. This will help Apple address the many cheaper Android and Windows phones out there, and should boost their numbers quite significantly.


Whether or not Samsung actually beat Apple in real-world smartphone sales is debatable, but even if they did, the comparison between 24 models from Samsung and just 2 models from Apple is hardly a reasonable comparison.

Despite the fact that Samsung may have technically gained the title of largest smartphone manufacturer, this is, after all, just a title, and with Apple poised to sell iPhones like hotcakes throughout the coming holiday season, it’s a matter which is barely worth considering.