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Thursday, May 09, 2013 11:30pm
Canalys: Apple losing 'shipment' share in global mobile market
In its latest report, industry research firm Canalys is reporting on what it calls "worldwide smart mobile device shipments" for the first quarter of the year -- a term that includes smartphones, notebooks and tablets. Of the 308.7 million devices that fall under one of those categories that shipping in Q1, around 60 percent were said to be Android devices, reflecting the platform's strength in smartphones -- the fastest-growing area of mobile electronics. Apple's iOS placed second again, despite a dominant presence in tablets.

Though Apple continued to lose share to Android in the report, the numbers included are virtually meaningless since they are based on shipments rather than actual end-user sales. As was recently revealed by Samsung in a US courtroom, the difference between shipments and sales can be startling -- in Samsung's case, shipments were seen to be nearly double the number of actual sales (though this was in the US market only, and may not be reflective of total worldwide sales). Among the companies listed in the report, only Apple provides figures that represent sell-through to end users and don't count losses, channel inventory, returns, backstock or otherwise unsold merchandise.

Thus, in shipments Android was also said to far surpass all other platforms, including Windows, with 59.5 percent of all units. Apple by comparison has a 19.3 percent share, based on a well-rounded portfolio of notebooks and mobile devices, including the iPad -- which completely dominates the tablet market in both the 7-8 inch and 9.7-inch and higher categories. Despite Apple's popularity in most larger markets, it rarely tops any combined figure of Android shipments except during the holidays.

The Cupertino company might well do better in its rankings if actual sales data were compared, but sales data is usually withheld and never made public with most companies, most notoriously Samsung and Amazon. Surveys that measure real-world usage such as Internet access for smartphones consistently show Apple and Android with nearly-perfectly inverted numbers from the shipment data (with Apple at around 60 percent and Android around 30 percent).

Microsoft came in third in the Canalys study at 18.1 percent, reflecting its overall weakness in mobile devices but accounting for the strong presence of Windows notebooks. Breaking the results down by category, the survey shows Apple dominating tablets still with 46.4 percent of shipments, but is allegedly losing ground to Android tablets with every passing quarter -- again in seeming contradiction to real-world usage figures.

Breaking out smartphones alone, Canalys says Android makes up 75.6 percent of shipments, with around half coming from Samsung. Apple's sales of 37 million iPhones in the quarter apparently translate into around 20 percent of shipments. Huawei and ZTE along with LG rounded out the top five smartphone makers, the former two companies' presence entirely due to their strong position as "local" vendors in the burgeoning Chinese market. This prevented others, such as BlackBerry, from entering the top five.