For the past few years, Apple has been sitting in the catbird’s seat when it comes to controlling market share for smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players.
In January, Apple had 37.8% of the U.S. smartphone market for customers age 13 and older, representing a 3.5% increase from Apple’s standing in October, according to smartphone market share figures from comScore.
Samsung was next at 21.4% (netting a 1.9% gain) while both HTC (9.7%) and Motorola (8.6%) have each lost a bit of ground (-1.7% and -1.4%, respectively).
But lately, doubt about Apple’s outlook is creeping into the minds of analysts and investors as Samsung, Google, and Chinese competitors such as Lenovo continue to eat into its smartphone market share and offer increasingly attractive features, experiences, and more competitive pricing.
For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone, introduced in mid-March, touts screen scrolling at the wave of a hand and is capable of recording sound with photos. In addition to having a larger high-definition screen than the iPhone, the Galaxy S4 also has a 13 megapixel camera compared to the iPhone’s 8 megapixel offering.
Big data analytics can help smartphone vendors spot emerging market shifts, consumer buying trends in different geographies and other factors that could swing the balance of power.
For instance, Samsung was the clear winner in the fourth quarter of 2012, shipping an estimated 63.7 million smartphones during the period versus 47.8 million for Apple, IDC reports. This represented a 76% increase for Samsung and a 29% increase for Apple. Meanwhile, Huawei and Sony posted 89% and 56% gains, respectively.
As a result, Samsung’s share of the global smartphone market increased from 23% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 29% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple’s share of the market, on the other hand, slipped a percentage point from 23% in 2011 to 22% in 2012.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a completely apples-to-apples comparison (pun intended) as Apple doesn’t sell smartphones that are priced at the lower end of the market.
As consumers increasingly use their smartphones for mobile commerce, analytics on consumer behavior by device may shed light on the device type and platform that’s gaining the highest penetration.
Case in point: In a separate m-commerce study by comScore, the iPhone has a higher penetration rate among selected retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy than Android devices. However, Androids typically deliver larger overall audiences to these retailers due to the platform’s higher overall market penetration.
Handset manufacturers are also likely using analytics to determine the demographic sets and geographies where the next, best opportunities lay.
As an example, while the smartphone penetration in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Sweden has already reached 92%, 87%, and 86% respectively, countries such as Brazil (14%), Germany (29%), and China (33%) have far lower penetration rates and upside potential for handset makers, according to Business Insider.