Samsung May Be Apple's First Real Mobile Competitor: Analysts
While Apple revolutionized the mobile industry, Samsung chugged away in the background. Now it's poised to become Apple's first real competitor.This week, smartphone giants Nokia, Motorola Mobility and Samsung posted fourth-quarter earnings that, each in its own way, reflected the looming presence-and successes-of Apple.
Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha noted that the Android-booster had made strides in the smartphone space during the quarter, but that sales were nonetheless affected by Verizon's announcement that it would soon offer an iPhone 4. Meanwhile, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, despite announcing that the world's leading phone maker had managed to increase smartphone sales by 38 percent during the quarter, conceded that Nokia still hasn't created a smartphone that can compete with the appeal of the iPhone or top-selling Android devices.
"Nokia faces some significant challenges in our competitiveness and our execution," Elop said a Jan. 27 statement. "In short, the industry changed, and now it's time for Nokia to change faster."
Still, it's not the only vendor with a shot at Apple's crown. "Motorola has every possibility of being able to pull this together," Kay said. However, Nokia is a different with a different problem.
"The fact that Nokia is still the dominant platform, even if the platform is outdated, makes it hard to step away from the trough to invest in other things," said Kay. While Nokia has a long road ahead, "Motorola can step on the gas with Android and compete with Samsung." Can it overtake Apple, though? "Samsung is best positioned among the mobile phone vendors to become a volume leader in smartphones on the strength of its Android handset lineup. However, I believe that it will have to wait a while before it can unseat Apple's iPhone," Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research told eWEEK in an e-mail. "While Android's global sales overall will surpass Apple iPhone sales, Samsung will be only a part (though a dominating part) of that mix."
Hyers added that Apple will sell at least 20 million iPhones in 2011-10 million to 12 million of which will go to Verizon Wireless customers. By contrast, Samsung sold slightly less than 10 million Galaxy S devices worldwide in 2010, and though that figure will grow, doubling it "will be a stretch." Samsung, Endpoint's Kay said, has established that there can be an Apple competitor-a thing that didn't used to exist. "But no one's an actual threat yet."