Samsung coyness puts smartphone crown in dispute

By 윤민식
  • Published : Apr 29, 2012 - 09:11
  • Updated : Apr 29, 2012 - 09:15

Smartphones are the hottest gadgets in the world. But who's the biggest smartphone maker? We don't really know.

(AP-Yonhap News)

Samsung, Apple's chief competitor, gives only vague indications of how many it makes, which means industry watchers come up with widely diverging estimates. Apple Inc. reports its iPhone sales down to the thousands. In the January to March period, it shipped 35,064,000. South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. may have sold 32 million, 37.5 million or 44.5 million, depending which analyst you believe. The company itself refuses to say.

What's at stake, of course, are bragging rights. More accurate sales figures from Samsung would also be useful to competitors and to partners like wireless carriers and retailers.

When it reported first-quarter results Friday morning, Samsung said only that overall phone shipments (including ``dumb'' phones) were down more than 10 percent from the fourth quarter, and that smartphone sales were about the same percentage of the company's overall sales as they have been before.

The problem is that Samsung hasn't reported any hard sales figures in a long time, so analysts are applying these vague hints to their own estimates, which in turn are based on vague hints from previous quarters.

There's even a debate about what Samsung's few guideposts really mean. Jan Dawson, an analyst at Ovum, says the analyst community is split over the interpretation of Samsung's reported ``300 percent'' increase in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2011, over the third quarter of 2010. A 300 percent increase means a quadrupling, but did Samsung really mean that? Or did sales triple, and they made the common mistake of calling that a ``300 percent increase?''

The two schools of thought account for some of the widely diverging estimates, Dawson believes. Analysts and reporters haven't been able to get Samsung to clarify the issue.

Wayne Lam, an analyst with IHS iSuppli, likens the process of estimating Samsung sales to ``using compasses instead of GPS.'' His estimate for first-quarter smartphone sales is 32 million, which would put Samsung behind Apple.

IDC Corp., a research firm that tracks phone sales, postponed the release of its quarterly phone sales ranking. It was originally scheduled for just after Samsung's report, but analyst Ramon Llamas said ``additional insight'' was needed.

Analysts agree that in terms of overall phone sales, including non-smart ones, Samsung outdid long-time No. 1 Nokia Corp. in the first quarter. But they differ on the margin of victory. Finland's Nokia said it sold 82.7 million phones. ABI Research's Michael Morgan puts Samsung at 83.4 million, only just ahead. Strategy Analytics has it at 93.5 million.

The estimates differ by 10.1 million phones, roughly enough for all the adults in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Samsung is not alone in espousing vagueness. Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC Corp. recently stopped reporting how many phones it makes, possibly because its sales are in decline.

``The bottom line is Samsung and Apple are definitely consolidating at the top,'' Lam said. ``The lead will trade back and forth a bit.'' (AP)


<관련 한글 기사>

삼성vs애플 스마트폰 대결, 승자는?

지난 분기 스마트폰시장에서 진정한 승자는 누구일까?

최근 애플과 삼성전자가 최근 분기 실적을 발표한 가운데 시장조사기관마다 삼성전자의 스마트폰 판매에 대한 실적 추정치가 달라 스마트폰 시장에서 점유율 1위를 차지한 선두기업이 누구인지를 정확하게 가려내지 못하고 있다고 미 경제전문지 포천 인터넷판이 27일(현지시간) 보도했다.

이에 따르면 애플은 최근 분기 아이폰을 3천506만4천대를 판매했다고 밝혔다.

이에 비해 삼성전자는 지난해 이어 정확한 판매대수를 공개하지 않고 있다는 것 이다.

이는 삼성전자가 스마트폰 판매실적이 크게 늘면서 자사의 반도체 고객이자 경쟁사인 애플 등 스마트폰 제조업체들을 자극하지 않기 위해 취한 조치인 것으로 전해졌다.

따라서 현 상황에서는 시장조사업체들의 추정치 발표에 의존해 시장내 선두기업 을 가려낼 수밖에 없는데 삼성전자의 스마트폰 판매실적 추정치가 업체마다 큰 차이 를 보이면서 혼란을 주고 있다는 것.

시장조사업체인 스트라티지 애널리틱스(SA)는 삼성전자가 4천450만대의  스마트 폰을 출하해 지난해 12월 애플에 빼앗겼던 1위자리를 되찾았다고 밝혔다.

하지만 또다른 시장조사업체 아이서플라이는 삼성전자가 3천200만대를 출하해 애플을 뛰어넘지 못한 것으로 추정됐다고 지적했다.

양 조사업체는 그러나 삼성전자가 스마트폰과 피처폰 양 부분에서 모두 노키아를 뛰었다는 부분에 대해서는 일치된 견해를 보였다.

다만 SA는 삼성전자가 9천350만대를 출하했으나 노키아는 8천270만대라고 밝힌 데 비해 아이서플라이는 섬성전자 출하규모를 9천200만대로 추정했다.