Apple and Samsung Slug it Out in the Smartphone Wars

3 minute read
Chris Knight avatar

No one else comes close as the two heavyweights for tech gadgets blow the field away with their latest figures. Apple reported its fourth-quarter iPhone 5 launch profits, but Samsung is way ahead in overall sales. 

Sales Apocalypse Incoming!

Next quarter, Apple will report its figures for the recently announced iPad 4, iPad mini, new iPods and new Macs. It threatens to be the biggest thing since The Beatles, which for some men in suits talking numbers is pretty scary.  This quarter, Apple merely reported the 5 million iPhone 5 sales and a few other bits and pieces (get the detailed numbers here). 

The company reported $36 billion in revenue, $8.2 billion in net profit, based on sales of 26.9 million iPhones, 14 million iPads, 4.9 million Macs and 5.3 million iPods. iPod sales were down almost 20% from this period last year but could well ping back up as the new models launch, Mac sales sneaked up 1%, but will all those new models may well go ballistic while iPad sales are up 25%.

That lot represents a record September quarter for Apple, and it is expecting $52 billion in the next quarter (and Apple usually underestimates these numbers)! Shareholders get a dividend of $2.65 per share. 

Enter Samsung's Powerhouse

Samsung, with its far wider product range (including the new mini Galaxy SIII) and the fact that it makes stuff for a lot of other companies (including Apple, as well as Google's new 10-inch tablet), manages to make Apple's figures look pretty small. The company sold 56.3 million smartphones, which accounts for over 31% of the global market, double Apple's 15% figure. However, Samsung's stock value is just a third of Apple's.

However, its financial figures are pretty comparable with net profit for the South Korean firm doubled to a record 6.6 trillion Korean Won, around $6 billion in 3Q, powered by smartphone sales and huge demand for its processors, display panels and use of its manufacturing base.

Learning Opportunities

The figure isn't higher than Apple's as Samsung struggles with the lumbering HDTV market (although its large TV panel sales are back in profit), and making all these things is expensive, with continuous rising costs in Asia. There is no breakdown yet on how the Samsung Galaxy SIII is selling (Samsung say it has shipped 20 million). That will be the key point of comparison for many, and while Apple is expected to surge next quarter, Samsung is looking at reduced profits. 

Anyone Else?

The other smartphone makers are so far down the scale it seems rude to compare them. The analyst firms will produce their next comparisons in the coming weeks, but it doesn't look like good news for anyone outside the top two. 

On the tablet front, Amazon also reported its figures with a $274 million net loss, but only stated that the Kindle FIre HD (which it sells at a loss) was the No. 1 product across Amazon stores worldwide. With the product just hitting Europe and Japan expect it to continue to dominate in the run up to Christmas and the company to benefit from content sales.

Despite their legal battles, both must be pretty happy at the top of the pile, and it is hard to see how even almighty Windows Phone 8 and Surface or Lumia and Asha sales could propel Microsoft or Nokia anywhere close, that is a battle that will take years to win.