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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Canalys: Apple losing 'shipment' share in global mobile market

Canalys: Apple losing 'shipment' share in global mobile market
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May 10, 2013, 12:02 AM
 
In its latest report, industry research firm Canalys is reporting on what it calls "worldwide smart mobile device shipments" for the first quarter of the year -- a term that includes smartphones, notebooks and tablets. Of the 308.7 million devices that fall under one of those categories that shipping in Q1, around 60 percent were said to be Android devices, reflecting the platform's strength in smartphones -- the fastest-growing area of mobile electronics. Apple's iOS placed second again, despite a dominant presence in tablets.

Though Apple continued to lose share to Android in the report, the numbers included are virtually meaningless since they are based on shipments rather than actual end-user sales. As was recently revealed by Samsung in a US courtroom, the difference between shipments and sales can be startling -- in Samsung's case, shipments were seen to be nearly double the number of actual sales (though this was in the US market only, and may not be reflective of total worldwide sales). Among the companies listed in the report, only Apple provides figures that represent sell-through to end users and don't count losses, channel inventory, returns, backstock or otherwise unsold merchandise.

Thus, in shipments Android was also said to far surpass all other platforms, including Windows, with 59.5 percent of all units. Apple by comparison has a 19.3 percent share, based on a well-rounded portfolio of notebooks and mobile devices, including the iPad -- which completely dominates the tablet market in both the 7-8 inch and 9.7-inch and higher categories. Despite Apple's popularity in most larger markets, it rarely tops any combined figure of Android shipments except during the holidays.

The Cupertino company might well do better in its rankings if actual sales data were compared, but sales data is usually withheld and never made public with most companies, most notoriously Samsung and Amazon. Surveys that measure real-world usage such as Internet access for smartphones consistently show Apple and Android with nearly-perfectly inverted numbers from the shipment data (with Apple at around 60 percent and Android around 30 percent).

Microsoft came in third in the Canalys study at 18.1 percent, reflecting its overall weakness in mobile devices but accounting for the strong presence of Windows notebooks. Breaking the results down by category, the survey shows Apple dominating tablets still with 46.4 percent of shipments, but is allegedly losing ground to Android tablets with every passing quarter -- again in seeming contradiction to real-world usage figures.

Breaking out smartphones alone, Canalys says Android makes up 75.6 percent of shipments, with around half coming from Samsung. Apple's sales of 37 million iPhones in the quarter apparently translate into around 20 percent of shipments. Huawei and ZTE along with LG rounded out the top five smartphone makers, the former two companies' presence entirely due to their strong position as "local" vendors in the burgeoning Chinese market. This prevented others, such as BlackBerry, from entering the top five.

( Last edited by NewsPoster; May 10, 2013 at 12:10 AM. )
     
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May 10, 2013, 02:11 AM
 
Its all very well counting the number of devices "shipped" but surely what actually matters is how many of those devices are actually sold rather than sitting in a warehouse somewhere ?
     
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May 10, 2013, 07:55 AM
 
I've said this many times before: "shipments will equal sales.... eventually". When exactly they do sell, and at what price, are other matters entirely. If the devices are selling "poorly", then the prices will get slashed till they eventually all get sold. They aren't going toss a device that cost $100 to make into the trash heap because they couldn't sell it for $400. They'll discount it down to $50 if need be. Better to take a $50 hit than a $100 hit.
     
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May 10, 2013, 08:51 AM
 
As mp1963 has posted, until they compare Apples to Apples (sold vs sold), these studies mean nothing.
Funny how Apple has no problems selling every iPhone/iPad they can make; we don't know that Samsung is able to do that. If they did, I would think they would make it known.
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May 10, 2013, 09:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Lifeisabeach View Post
I've said this many times before: "shipments will equal sales.... eventually". When exactly they do sell, and at what price, are other matters entirely. If the devices are selling "poorly", then the prices will get slashed till they eventually all get sold. They aren't going toss a device that cost $100 to make into the trash heap because they couldn't sell it for $400. They'll discount it down to $50 if need be. Better to take a $50 hit than a $100 hit.
That's not how it works.

Most dealers and distributors have agreements by which inventory unsold by a certain date may be returned.

Manufacturers make deals like this precisely to be able to inflate their "sales" numbers, because nobody buys a loser, and a device that is reported to ship in insane numbers is actually more likely to be bought, even if much of that inventory goes back into recycling after six months.

This can be a useful tactic for brand-building, even if it means eating the losses.

See: Samsung.
     
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May 10, 2013, 09:17 AM
 
Apple's products are always in shortage due to high demands vs. Samsung's excessive inventory is good for filling landfill. A buddy of mine just switched from Android to iPhone 4 for $30. Old model iPhones still sell like hot cake.
     
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May 10, 2013, 12:35 PM
 
"Shipments will equal sales.... eventually". When, precisely? This quarter, the next, or the one after?

This tactic of inflating quarterly sales figures is widespread, and is commonly known as "stuffing the channel"... what is certain is that the bubble of falsehood upon which the tactic is based will burst eventually for its practitioners.

What rankles, however, is using these largely bogus figures to talk up one competitor, or as a stick with which the entire tech press and the stock market analysts beat up one single successful vendor, Apple Inc, depressing their share price and causing conscientious investors in the company no end of grief.

Web surfing statistics and popular acclaim, coupled with actual sales reporting should be the normal means of assessing a company's current and future worth, not this "competition of lies" we are constantly being subjected to, a blatant double standard.

So long as Apple sticks to its ethos of producing "insanely great" products and provide stellar after-sales customer service for same, they'll ride out this "perfect storm" of deceit aided and abetted by the supposed "watchdogs of the 5th estate of the realm", who seem to have mortgaged their conscience to perform irrational and debasing acts of misrepresentation for whatever clandestine benefit accrues to their worthless hides.
     
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May 10, 2013, 01:14 PM
 
I see two issues here:

Android phones have replaced non-smart phones in the U.S. and probably in other Western markets. This gives Android a great advantage in numbers, but explains its low share in actual network usage. People who buy iPhones are purposefully buying a smartphone and intend to use it as such. I would guess that around 1/2 of the Android users are buying an Android phone because it was a cool looking phone and aren't all that interested in its "Smart" features.

The other is that emerging markets may have little choice. A $600 iPhone may be desired, but is just out of reach even in China and India for most people. Plus, iPhones have very limited distribution. In many countries iPhones are gray marketed devices. This gives Android handsets a big advantage. In China, most Android handsets are sold by brands most of us have never heard of.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the rumored "budget iPhones" start to come out. If these do come out, I predict we'll see an almost doubling of Apple sales in China, but that Android still makes up the vast majority of sales.

Also, I wonder how many of those Chinese Android phones are official licensed Google Android phones vs. companies simply taking stock open source Android and placing it on their hardware. This means that these phones don't come with Google services which aren't all that important in the Chinese market. However, it also means that Google is getting no benefit from these phones. A better division would be Google Android vs. Android vs. iOS.
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May 10, 2013, 01:29 PM
 
Just ask Acer, HTC, and Motorola and you will understand that there are things called 'write down' and 'donation'.
     
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May 10, 2013, 03:16 PM
 
Lifeisabeach's assertion doesn't add up - distributors and sales outlets RETURN unsold inventory, as they will not discount below their own costs. No sales outlet purchases a smartphone for $400 only to sell it for $50 - suggesting that Lifesabeach, indeed, has never run a business.

While manufacturers like Samsung have high inventory return values (rumored to be north of 50%) and equally high values on returned sales (also rumored to be around 40%), Apple's returns hover around 2% - a number "analysts" like Canalysis don't include in their "analys", oddly.
     
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May 10, 2013, 11:33 PM
 
Guys guys guys... you are completely missing my point. I was being something of a smart-alec, but I know that equating shipments to sales is misleading. I also know that distributors send back unsold stock. My contention is that the unsold stock will "eventually" get redistributed and sold at a fire sale (saaay... do they double-count re-shipments as new shipments?). They aren't going to simply throw away unsold stock. At least... I'm fairly certain that doesn't happen... feel free to cite sources to the contrary. Anywho, obviously you can't TRULY count a shipment as a sale, but it will be a sale eventually, even if at a loss. There are 3rd world countries hungry for cheap smartphones. Getting the crap that no one else wanted is one way for them to get them cheap.
     
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May 11, 2013, 11:07 AM
 
Come to think of it, a lot of this "shipped" inventory in "stuffed" channels may well be jumping from quarter to quarter, so that the contents of the same shipments may be counted twice, thrice or even cumulatively... giving the illusion of mounting Android dominance.

Then, as qazwart states, there's the Google (stock) Android vs Forked Android vs Bare-bones Android vs iOS scenario, coupled yet again with ZinkDifferent's return value factor of unsold stock, or is it "write down/donations", which are likely tax-deductible... what an impenetrable thicket of figures to unravel!!!
     
   
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