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Smartphones in Q1. Sammy Back On Top

Smartphones in Q1. Sammy Back On Top
by Paul McLellan on 05-04-2015 at 7:00 pm

 Because it is such a major impact on the semiconductor industry, being the largest and fastest growing market ever, I follow the ups and down of the mobile industry. So what happened in Q1?

Total shipments are up 2% to a record (for Q1) 440 million units but that is down 16% from Q4 which remains the biggest quarter ever.

First thing is that Samsung is back at #1 which I predicted last time I wrote about mobile. This is not due to the new Galaxy models (S6 and S6 Edge) which were only announced in the quarter and were not actually available until April. Samsung is up 11% sequentially and analysts put them around 83 million units. With the new Galaxies reportedly selling well I expect Samsung to pull ahead of Apple even more next quarter.

See also Mobile 2014 and the Future

Apple is far and away the most profitable company, of course, but their unit sales were down 11% sequentially (although up nearly 40% on a year ago). They reported 61 million units, so 25% behind Samsung. It is quite a change of fortune given that they were bigger than Samsung (or a dead heat according to some analysts) in Q4. But Apple always has a huge quarter when they release their new models. iPad sales were down a lot, presumably partially due to being cannibalized by the phablet iPhone 6 plus, although iPad is still the #1 tablet by a long way (it is very fragmented). And it took them one day to become a clear #1 in watches too although the jury is still out on just how significant a market that will turn out to be. I remain a little skeptical although my friends who have one (I don’t) rave about them.

 Here is an interesting factoid: during Q1 NASDAQ was up 0.7%. But without Apple, it was down 5.1%. Apple is propping up the whole index. Indeed the S&P would have lost an extra percentage over what it did without Apple.

Lenovo (now with added Motorola) third with sales, according to Strategy Analytics, of 19 million, and Huawei fourth with 17M. Plus LG (who are Korean of course) who reported sales of about 15 million phones. In fact some analysts put LG at 4[SUP]th[/SUP], ahead of Huawei. The rest of the top ten are Xiaomi, Coolpad, ZTE, TCL and maybe Vivo. All Chinese brands. In fact below the top 3 (Sammy, Apple, Lenovo) the numbers are clearly hard to predict with everyone not far from being equal and different analysts coming to different conclusions.
 Notable for their “new normal” absence were Microsoft/Nokia, Blackberry, and (newly fallen from grace) Sony. How the mighty brand names of just a few years ago have fallen.

Nokia Networks (the old Nokia, now a networking and mapping company, not Microsoft which bought Nokia’s old smartphone business and the name, although they don’t use it) livened things up a little last week when they announced in China that they would get back into the smartphone business. And then they denied it and said it:reiterates [Nokia Networks] currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.

Given that they probably still have excellent carrier relationships, especially given their acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent making them the biggest supplier of the base-stations, the big question may be “why not?”

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