Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Open Books

The Apple v. Samsung trial has forced both of the companies to divulge their US-specific sales, something which neither company breaks down in their quarterly financial calls. There are a lot of stories about this, and I’ve skimmed the best analysis. First up is Ina Fried, writing for AllThingsD:

Documents filed by Samsung lawyers on Thursday reveal that, from June 2010 through June 2012, Samsung sold 21.25 million phones, generating $7.5 billion in revenue. On the tablet side, the company sold 1.4 million Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices, producing $644 million in revenue.

Everyone knows Android tablets aren’t selling nearly as well as the iPad. Over the course of two years, Samsung has sold 1.4 million Galaxy tablets. As Philip Elmer-Dewitt noted, the numbers that analysts have been estimating are grossly exaggerated.

Samsung sells a tonne of phones, however. If you look at the chart that Ina Fried posted, it’s incredibly confusing, as there are multiple models of broadly similar devices, each for a different carrier. Horace Dediu has provided his usual high standard of analysis to these numbers:

Samsung’s pattern is not unusual. I’ve seen similar pattern for almost all Nokia products. Prices drop. It’s a standard industry phenomenon.

Therefore the question is not perhaps what is Samsung’s basis of competition: it’s the same as the overall phone industry. The question is what is the basis of competition for the iPhone.

Samsung’s numbers, according to Dediu’s analysis, are broadly in line with industry trends, whereas Apple’s numbers paint a different picture. I wonder what the graphs would look like if Apple’s iPhone numbers were compared to that of, say, iPod sales from 2003-2008.

Apple’s numbers, as posted by Brian Bishop at The Verge, show that their US sales are between about 25 and 45% of worldwide sales, presumably dependent on when the product launches in different regions.

Jacqui Cheng over at ArsTechnica also notes that this is the first time we’ve seen a breakdown of iPhone and iPod touch sales:

Even the weakest link of the iOS family—the iPod touch—is selling faster than a large chunk of Samsung’s portfolio.

That’s the effect of selling three focused devices instead of dozens of different models. It’s also the benefit of updating those products on an annual basis, instead of staggering a myriad of new products throughout the year. Apple gets to experience one quarter annually where their iPhone sales slow down a bit, with many consumers waiting for the new model.

Samsung’s data is hard to analyze in the same way because their quarters are full of questions. What if they only had two or three new phones every year? It looks like they’re trying to do that, but they need to compromise too much with carriers to be able to pull it off successfully, or entirely.