May 26, 2024

Apple Dethrones Samsung as Top Smartphone Vendor After Over a Decade of Trying

Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 17, 2024

For the first time since 2011, Samsung is no longer the top smartphone vendor in terms of global shipments. After over a decade of striving for the top spot, Apple has finally managed to surpass its archrival Samsung in worldwide smartphone shipments for 2023. This marks a major shift in the smartphone industry, ending Samsung’s impressive 12-year run at the summit.

The Numbers: Apple Edges Ahead in Close Race

According to the latest reports from market research firms IDC, Canalys and Counterpoint Research, Apple shipped around 32 million more iPhones than Samsung shipped Galaxy smartphones in 2023. Here are the estimated global smartphone shipments for 2023:

Vendor 2023 Shipments (millions) Market Share
Apple 296.0 25.2%
Samsung 263.4 22.5%

As evident from the table above, it was an extremely close race between the two giants, with Apple taking the crown by a slim margin on the back of strong sales of its iPhone 14 series. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus proved to be exceptionally popular, even without major hardware upgrades. This allowed Apple to gain crucial ground over Samsung and squeeze past it to #1 position.

The Road to the Top Wasn’t Easy for Apple

Apple has been steadily mounting a challenge to Samsung’s dominance for many years. Over a decade ago in 2011, Samsung decisively moved ahead of Apple to become the top smartphone maker globally. Since then, Samsung has managed to maintain its lead year after year, even when Apple came close a few times.

The smartphone landscape was quite different back in 2011. Apple had just launched the iPhone 4 while Samsung had started making big moves with its Android-based Galaxy smartphones. What followed was an epic rivalry between the two companies across the world.

In recent years, as the smartphone market plateaued and buyers started holding on to devices for longer, Apple continued to gain strength. Back in 2020, famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had predicted that Apple would overtake Samsung in smartphone shipments by 2021. However that did not quite materialize as the market was hit by chip shortages and supply chain issues during the pandemic.

2022 was a tough year for the smartphone industry, but Apple managed to show resilience and had a stellar iPhone 14 launch. On the other hand, Samsung struggled with demand issues for its expensive foldable phones leading to a decline in volumes. This finally allowed Apple to clinch the long sought-after top position in 2023.

Apple Leveraged Strong Supply Chain and China Market

According to Counterpoint Research, there were two key factors behind Apple’s rise to the pinnacle of global smartphone shipments:

  1. Robust supply chains: Even as the entire industry reeled from component shortages, Apple’s world-class supply chain kept pumping out iPhones. With its advanced planning and scale, Apple could procure vital chips and parts even when Samsung struggled.

  2. Growth in China: China emerging from Covid lockdowns led to huge pent up demand, especially for iPhones, which captured record market share in China in 2023. Overcoming home favorite brands like Xiaomi and Oppo, Apple’s share in China rose to over 25% propelling its global numbers.

Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton explained Apple’s strategy: “In a declining market, Apple has emerged as the industry’s shining star. The iPhone has continued to capture consumer imagination in China, even as the market undergoes its biggest downturn in a decade. Armed with advanced technologies and ecosystem strengths, Apple is emerging relatively unscathed from an industry downturn which is now starting to reset the smartphone pecking order.”

Samsung Looks to Get Back on Top

Losing its long-held smartphone crown to Apple comes as a big setback for Samsung right before the launch of its flagship Galaxy S24 series. Samsung had held the title of the world’s largest smartphone vendor every year since regaining it from Apple in 2011.

Samsung said that it expects to claw back market share in 2024 with help from foldable smartphone models. “We will actively respond to changes in the market environment through advancements in our Galaxy ecosystem as well as competitive product offerings,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

Industry experts feel Samsung needs a smooth Galaxy S24 launch without any production or demand issues to take back pole position this year. It also needs strong sales momentum in key markets like India and Latin America where Chinese brands are expanding rapidly. There are even calls for Samsung to scale down prices of its premium foldable range to boost volumes.

Counterpoint analyst Liz Lee summed it up aptly: “It remains to be seen how long Apple can retain the top spot as the market moves to another cycle of replacement demand in the second half of 2024. Besides, Samsung faces growth challenges in the premium segment. The Galaxy S24 gives it a window of opportunity.”

Clearly, Samsung will be pulling out all the stops over the next year in its quest to regain lost ground. For now, Apple can enjoy the sweet taste of hard-won victory. But more twists likely await in this iconic tech rivalry.

What Does This Mean for the Smartphone Industry?

Apple overtaking Samsung caps off a decade long see-saw battle and ushers a new era in the maturing smartphone industry. This changing of the guard has deeper implications that will shape the smartphone landscape going forward:

Shift Towards Premium Segment

With buyers opting for pricier models that last longer before an upgrade, Apple with its rich premium portfolio stands to gain over high-volume brands. Unique premium offerings like satellite connectivity introduced with the iPhone 14 also add to its leadership.

Focus Moves to Services, Ecosystems

As hardware innovations taper off, services, subscriptions and cross-device ecosystems will drive growth and stickiness. Apple has a clear edge here with its Apple One bundles, Fitness+, Apple Pay, iMessage network effects etc.

Deep China Integration Becomes Key

With China holding great weight in smartphone shipments, brands need to cater well to Chinese consumers and build engagement via apps and localized offerings. Apple’s China gains in 2023 make this very clear.

In summary, Apple finally achieving the long-elusive target of global smartphone domination caps off an iconic decade-long battle but also kicks off a new round of competition in a market transformed by maturing growth, geopolitical realignments and plateauing innovation.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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