Apple tops Samsung as world’s top smartphone seller

The iPhone maker ends the South Korean rival’s 12-year lead.

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FILE PHOTO: The iPhone 15 Pro is presented during the 'Wonderlust' event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2023. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Apple has surpassed Samsung as the leading global smartphone seller, bringing an end to the Korean tech company’s 12-year dominance in the industry. In 2023, the iPhone claimed the top position by selling 234.6 million units, as reported by the International Data Corporation (IDC), surpassing Samsung’s 226.6 million units.

IDC attributed Apple’s ascension, marked by the release of the iPhone 15 in September, to various trends, including the growing popularity of high-end devices, which now constitute over 20% of the market.

According to IDC, the shift in power at the pinnacle of the largest consumer electronics market marks a significant change, noting that the last time a company other than Samsung held the top spot in the smartphone market was in 2010. Apple is now claiming the position, driven by an unprecedented market share and a first-time leadership achievement.

The US tech giant, valued at $2.8 trillion (£2.2 trillion), secured a 20.1% market share, surpassing Samsung’s 19.4%. While Apple has long held the position of the leading smartphone maker in terms of revenue and profit, this marks its first time at the forefront in terms of volume.

The sales data predates Samsung’s recent release of new models, including the Galaxy S24, S24 Plus, and S24 Ultra, featuring artificial intelligence-backed features.

The new data is a psychological blow to Samsung. Despite anticipating a closely contested battle throughout 2024, Apple’s strong trajectory and consumer loyalty to Apple devices maintained, users tending to stick with Apple once they adopt its products.

IDC also noted the increasingly fragmented market for Android-based smartphones, citing low-end Samsung rivals like Transsion and Xiaomi, along with Honor and Google. The success of Huawei’s well-received products in China contributed to Samsung’s decline in sales, and IDC identified Huawei as a continued competitive threat to Apple in China, the largest market for the US company.

Global smartphone shipments experienced a 3.2% decline to 1.17 billion units in 2023. Despite this, IDC sees the industry recovering, with growth in the second half of the year solidifying expectations for a rebound in 2024.

Last week, Apple lost its position as the world’s most valuable company to Microsoft, with a valuation of $2.9 trillion.


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