The Financial Times Pretends Apple Plays the Market Share Game

Tim Bradshaw and Michael Acton, reporting for the Financial Times, under the eye-opening headline “Apple Loses Smartphone Crown to Samsung as Chinese Rivals Gain Ground” (archive link):

Apple lost its lead in the global smartphone market at the start of 2024, with iPhone sales falling 10 per cent as lower-cost Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi experienced rapid growth.

Sounds bad! Then comes the second paragraph of the report:

Samsung regained its position as the world’s largest smartphone maker by volume in the first quarter, according to market researcher International Data Corporation, just three months after Apple claimed the top spot for the first time.

So we’re talking about unit sales volume (a measure Apple has never pursued as a top priority), using numbers from IDC (sketchy at best), and a supposed lead that Apple held for ... three months? Which three months happen to be the holiday quarter, when — every single year — all of Apple’s sales go up, and when new iPhone models drop. Warm up your dictionaries, time to refresh your memory of how to spell beleaguered.

The iPhone’s success is so poorly reflected by market share numbers that the Department of Justice invented a fictional category of “performance smartphones” just to make it maybe sorta kinda — if you squint just right — look like they might possibly hold a monopoly under U.S. law.

IDC estimated that global iPhone shipments declined 10 per cent to 50.1mn in the first three months of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, giving it a 21 per cent market share.

Let’s see if there’s a 10 percent drop in iPhone revenue year-over-year when Apple reports results for the January–March quarter on May 2. If so, that’ll be quite the feather in IDC’s cap. If not, I’m sure we’ll see a correction from IDC and the FT.

Update, 2 May 2024: IDC nailed it — iPhone sales were down exactly 10 percent.

Tuesday, 16 April 2024