NEW YORK: Smartphones are the hottest gadgets in the world. But who is the biggest smartphone maker? We do not really know.
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 million. 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 is at stake are bragging rights. More accurate sales figures from Samsung would also be useful to competitors and partners like wireless carriers and retailers.
When it reported first-quarter results Friday morning, Samsung said only that overall phone shipments were down more than 10 per cent 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 has not reported any hard sales figures in a long time.
Analysts and reporters have not 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, Samsung outdid long-time number one Nokia Corp in the first quarter. Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC Corp also recently stopped reporting how many phones it makes, possibly because its sales are in decline.