Smartphone wars: Samsung strikes back

John Harvey

SEE no evil, hear no evil.

At least that was the case in the global smartphone market until August this year, when a jury in California decided that Apple should be awarded $1-billion (R8.6-billion) in compensation for rivals Samsung copying their iPhone design.

Now three months since Judge Lucy Koh’s ruling, international smartphone manufacturers tend to speak with forked tongue as they jockey for position and do whatever it takes to get one over the opposition.

But surprisingly, it is Samsung that is coming up trumps among users globally, despite the “setback” of violating six out of seven Apple patents.

According to figures released by Juniper Research in the UK last week, Samsung sold 56.3 million smartphones in the third quarter of this year, while Apple sold 26.9 million handsets over the same period.

And it is the Samsung SIII that is doing the damage. Juniper found that the SIII accounted for 18 million – or 32% – of Samsung’s smartphone unit sales during the quarter.

Although Blackberry continues to hold sway in South Africa, cellphone providers in Nelson Mandela Bay have seen the Galaxy SIII starting to make significant moves in the city.

“The SIII has far outsold the iPhone since it came onto the market a few months ago,” Vodashop Greenacres sales assistant Colin Schoeman said.

“Word has definitely got around that the phone has excellent software, and I would say that it is definitely catching Blackberry in terms of popularity as well.”

He said Blackberry phones, while affording customers very good value for money, did have to go in for repairs quite frequently.

Nashua Mobile Port Elizabeth regional manager Sandi Cooke agreed Blackberry remained the most affordable option, while acknowledging she had noticed the Galaxy was starting to gain popularity.

“Blackberry is loaded with free data and, of course, Blackberry Messenger is free between Blackberry users. We still see most people upgrading to Blackberry,” she said.

“But the smartphone market does tend to follow trends, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see more people getting the SIII.”

Nashua Mobile East London representative Nicky Priestley concurred with her Port Elizabeth colleague.

“It is amazing how Samsung has picked up. I don’t even think that the iPhone5 will make that much of a difference when it is released,” she said.

“At our store it is beginning to outsell the Blackberry.”

A snap survey of Eastern Cape residents found that the jury was still out on the great SIII-iPhone war.

Musician Wayne Kallis, who will be getting his Samsung phone next week, said he would even have opted for the SII.

“The main reason is that it actually lets you decide how to use it and not the other way around,” he said.

But Kyle du Preez said he had an iPhone because he “needed” it.

“[It’s] because of the platform for development and the endless amount of tools for musicians [GarageBand, incredibly accurate tuners, metronomes],” he said.

According to Bradley Millar, home consumer tech support expert from Port Elizabeth’s futureTECH, Samsung’s success comes from contracts it signed with all the major telecoms to gain a broader reach over Apple.

“By getting more phones and tablets into more locations, Samsung hopes to saturate the market in areas Apple has yet to reach. Whereas Apple, in keeping with their dreams of exclusivity, opted to have their phone available to a select few carriers.”

“Samsung is also seeing success by releasing a wider array of devices at various price points, making them more affordable to middle-class con sumers. By exploiting Apple’s weakness, offering just one high-end device, Samsung’s strategy of selling cheaper devices in more developing areas, is giving it more volume, albeit at lower margins.”

However, he said, Apple remained successful by making money on both their hardware and software.

“And the figures are staggering. It is estimated that Apple earns 70 to 75% of the profit for the entire cellphone industry on its own products, which only have roughly 7% of the global market share.”

Leave a Reply

Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment moderation policy. Your email address is required but will not be published.