Samsung and Apple have been locked in a bitter struggle for market share for quite some time, but according to a new report from Strategy Analytics, the Korean company was able to put even more distance between it and Apple during the final quarter of last year. The firm reports that Samsung pulled in a record-high 86 million smartphone sales in Q4 2013, which was a fair bit more than Apple's 51 million iPhone sales. Those sales were enough to push Samsung to 29.6% market share for the quarter, and now it's sitting pretty a whole 12 points ahead of Apple's 17.9%.
That's not bad when you consider the fact that the holiday season fell in that quarter and Apple probably enjoyed a large uptick in iPhone sales as a result. Looking at the smartphone industry as a whole throughout the year, shipments topped 990 million – another record – and grew by an impressive 41%. 319.8 million of those shipments belong to Samsung, while 153.5 million go to Apple. Samsung and Apple will probably keep duking it out for dominance of the smartphone market for a while yet, but Strategy Analytics is warning that both companies need to be on the lookout for Huawei and Lenovo. Those two took the third and fourth ranked spots for the quarter respectively, and even though their numbers are still a ways off from either Samsung or Apple, Strategy Analytics' Linda Sui suggests they could pose a threat this year.
That's because there's a surge in low-end smartphone sales and it's being led by Chinese manufacturers. We've seen even the big companies trying to woo those in the market for a budget-priced device, with Samsung offering a range of inexpensive smartphones and Apple recently launching the iPhone 5c. Huawei managed to sell 16.6 million smartphones during the quarter, while Lenovo came in at 13.6 million sales – far fewer than that of Apple or Samsung, but given time, those companies and others could grow to challenge the giants. It'll be interesting to see where all of these companies end up in Q4 2014, and how the market shifts during the year. While we doubt the market for high-end smartphones will be going anywhere in the near future, it doesn't strike us as a very good idea to ignore the demand for less expensive handsets. Stay tuned.