Apple reportedly second biggest smartphone shipper in the world, again

Market share remains the most popular metric to calculate among metric calculators, and last quarter their measures claim Apple shipped the second largest amount of smartphones in the world at 31.2 million, representing a 13.1% slice of the customer pie. IDC reports:

Apple posted its second-lowest year-over-year iPhone growth rate in almost four years as some buyers presumably held off on iPhone purchases in advance of an expected next-generation device launch this fall. Nonetheless, the 31.2 million iPhones Apple shipped last quarter was impressive as its flagship iPhone 5 model, which has been in the market for three quarters, was faced with additional global competition in the form of Samsung's Galaxy S4 and HTC's critically-acclaimed One models. Apple's growth is likely to accelerate globally assuming it launches a lower-cost iPhone and continues to penetrate prepaid markets in the quarters to come.

Samsung took the top spot at 72.4 million units shipped, for a 30.4% share, and LG rounded out the top three with 12.1 million and 5.1%. When it comes to all phones, not just the smart ones, Samsung jumps to a whopping 114.4 million units but only a 26.2% share, because Nokia remains on that particular chart with 61.1 million units for 14.1%.

So, while Apple moved more units than this time last year, Samsung moved way more units, and that brought Apple's overall moved-units number down. (Nokia moved way less units than they did this time last year, but not way-enough-er to fall below Apple yet when you count dumb-phones, which Apple doesn't make.)

What does this tell us? Once again as much or as little as we want to read into it. In terms of gross trends Samsung is shipping a ton more, smartphone and dumbphone both. Nokia is shipping a ton less, but their dumbphone share is still significant. And Apple is still growing, though not as fast as Samsung. Smartphones are also still growing, and we're increasingly approaching the time when almost all phones are smart.

Once again, these are estimated units shipped only, not necessarily units sold (because most manufacturers not named Apple don't report actual sold-to-customer numbers). It doesn't cover profit share, usage share, customer satisfaction (customer sat!) or anything else.

Apple entered the market with Nokia (Symbian) and BlackBerry at the top of the charts, and they're still in the game now that Samsung fills the shelves.

The assumption about the less expensive iPhone is interesting, however. Apple hasn't announced such a product, though it's been rumored for several years. Recently sales of the 2011 iPhone 4 have grown, due to its relatively low cost. That's pushed down Apple's average selling price, costing them margin and ultimately profit.

That's the thing about the market share game. You can't just play it, you have to play it well. So far, historically, Apple's done that best on profit, Samsung increasingly on volume. Now maybe we'll start to see each broaden their plays. Interesting times.

Source: IDC

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.