Samsung is Virtually Tied With Apple, Sells 36.5M Smartphones in Q4
January 27, 2012 10:29 AM
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Samsung's semiconductor unit also posts a strong quarter; company loses 3G anti-Apple lawsuit in Germany
Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (
) created a lot of excitement, when it
hinted at a blowout quarter
, in pre-earnings talk. But that excitement has since been overshadowed by Apple, Inc.'s (
) own record-setting 3 months. Now Samsung has popped back into the picture, with its actual earnings results.
I. A Virtual Tie With Apple
After jumping out to a
substantial 65 percent sales lead
over Apple in Q3 2011, Samsung is now in a virtual tie with its surging rival in global sales. Samsung moved 36.5 million units in Q4 2011, compared to 37 million from Apple.
Smartphone sales were a boon for Samsung, whose telecommunications unit reported 17.82T Won (~$15.33B USD) in revenue. That's approximate 38 percent of the South Korean electronics conglomerate's total 47.3T Won (~$42.14B USD) in sales. The unit also pulled in net revenue (profit) of 2.64T Won (~$2.35B USD), over half of Samsung's total profit of 5.30T Won (~$4.72B USD). Overall the telecom unit’s revenue was up 52 percent versus last year, while profit was up 79 percent.
While Samsung's budget feature phones
continue to surge
creeping towards Nokia
, its iconic smartphones are drawing the most attention. Samsung was the first OEM to sell an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phone in the U.S., launching
the Galaxy Nexus
around Christmas time. Its Galaxy S II lineup
continues to sell strongly
, as well.
The company has a strong equity position, with over 26.88T Won (~$23.95B USD) in cash. The company plans 47.8T Won (~$41.59B USD) to research in development in 2012 -- far more than Apple.
Samsung was boosted by strong smartphone and mobile device sales [Image Source: 9to5Google]
Speaking of Apple, Samsung also continues to
profit off the success of its rival
(and others), thanks to its semiconductor division. Aside from smartphones, semiconductor sales accounted for the majority of the remaining profit for Samsung. The unit reported 2.31T Won (~$2.06B USD) on sales of 9.17T Won (~$8.17B USD). Samsung is reportedly
the only remaining profitable DRAM maker
. It continues to perform strongly in the system-on-a-chip business, and it actively expanding production on both the 3x nm (DRAM, SoC) and 2x nm (NAND) nodes.
Samsung's Digital Media and Appliances (DM&A) and display panel businesses struggled amidst slowing stables and the floods in Thailand that hurt component supply. They did remain profitable, though. The DM&A pulled in 16.96T Won (~$15.11B USD) in sales, but made only 570B Won (~$507.8M USD) in profit.
Overall this will be remembered as a very strong quarter for Samsung, to cap off a record setting year. But it will also be overshadowed by Apple's
II. "Sammy" Loses a Round in its German Case Against Apple
In related news, Samsung has lost yet another lawsuit against Apple, this time in Germany. Both Samsung [
] and Apple [
] have been on losing streaks of late in their lawsuit campaigns against each other. International courts seem to increasingly be opting to throw out as much of these lawsuits as possible, wary of giving either company an unfair competitive advantage. Both companies are under investigation in the European Union
for abusing the intellectual property system
International courts are growing tired of Apple and Samsung's lawsuits. [Image Source: Grande Prairie]
Judge Andreas Voss, the presiding judge in Mannheim Regional Court, Mannheim, Germany, gave no reason for the dismissal, according to Florian Mueller of
. Samsung could still appeal his decision to the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court, but it's unclear if it will.
Samsung still has 3 more 3G/UMTS cases against Apple in Germany, which it hopes will go better than its last two. Each of the cases deals with specific patents. Apple is currently pursuing a new sales ban on Samsung's new tablets, which Samsung redesigned
specially to try to satisfy
the German court's
earlier design infringement claims
A lower court ruled that the
redesign was sufficient
, allowing Samsung's tablet sales to resume. Now it remains to be seen whether that ruling holds.
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RE: How many of the 36.5 million were smartphones?
1/27/2012 12:05:58 PM
The 36.5 (I've seen 33, 35, and 36; Samsung is shy on the hard numbers) is just smartphones.
Perhaps what's telling is how many models each company has. Samsung has seemingly dozens of models (Galaxy Ace, Gio, S, R, S Plus, S II, Nexus...); Apple has three. Where Samsung succeeds is cutting into tiny niches where someone is specific on how much they're willing to pay or where volume makes certain technologies impractical.
Apple works on making the smartphone with the broadest possible appeal, so it may not get that family in Morocco that refuses to pay more than $250 off-contract but will get large swaths of people worldwide.
RE: How many of the 36.5 million were smartphones?
1/27/2012 2:30:43 PM
I'd say it's less "cutting into tiny niches" and more renaming the same phone based on which carrier is selling it. There's also variation in SoC, radio, and screen type, but from what I've seen, Samsung phones from a given generation are all pretty similar in capabilities and price.
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