Yesterday, a report from Strategy Analytics revealed that for the third quarter this year, the worldwide performance of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 shipments outperformed the iPhone 4S, shipping 18 million total units compared to the iOS handset’s 16.2 million units. The impressive numbers, along with the 11% global smartphone market share nabbed by the Korean company, is certainly no small feat, although a slight debate has been going around regarding how the figures should actually be interpreted. Below are a number of interesting points that are currently being discussed by observers around the tech community:
1. The “Shipment” and” Sales” Issue: When referring to the Galaxy S3’s 3Q12 performance, the Wall Street Journal, along with various other news sources, made a point of emphasizing the difference between “product shipment” and “retail sales.” Whereas Apple is noted for reporting the actual numbers of phones sold to consumers, the Korean giant has a tendency to reveal the total numbers shipped to retail carriers and stores. With the 3Q12 report data apparently not indicating the number of consumers with a Galaxy S3 at hand, in the short term at least, some are likely to perceive any excitement surrounding Samsung as being slightly premature. As a side, the iPhone’s total 3Q shipment, according to Gigaom, is said to total to approximately 26.2 million units (iPhone 5’s 6 million figure included).
2. The “iPhone 5” Factor: In spite of what the 3Q12 numbers indicate, few observers appear to be surprised, let alone shocked, by the iPhone 4S’s declining 3Q performance relative to that of the Galaxy S3. One major reason for this is the swirling iPhone 5 rumors before September, which many say deterred potential customers from rushing for their 4S models. Another reason, of course, is the dent put on the iPhone 4S’s market performance by the iPhone 5’s eventual, much hyped about release.
3. A Ranking Subject to Change: Adding to the above mentioned discussion, there’s been a lot of talk regarding how the new iPhone handset has only just begun to pick up its momentum. In terms of its future prospects, Neil Mawston of Strategy Analytics is confident that the iPhone 5 will “out-ship” the Galaxy S3 during 4Q12, in the process reclaiming its title as the world’s most “popular” smartphone model. The outcome is believed to be all the more likely with China apparently becoming ready to ship the iPhone 5 as early as during the end of this month, according to a recent report from WSJ. It will be interesting to see whether and to what extent the Cupertino company will accomplish this feat, given the apparent difficulties Foxconn is currently experiencing in assembling the new iOS handset, and taking into account the potential supply shortage issues that is set to follow.
4. Samsung’s Undeniable Future Potential: While much of the discussion tends to revolve around Apple’s potential to rebound in 4Q12, there are a lot of those who, seeing the 3Q12 results, appear just as optimistic about the Galaxy S3’s potential to match against the Cupertino giant. As stated in WSJ, Samsung’s ability to pose a challenge to Apple on its “home turf,” even if only in the “shipping” department, is highly impressive in its own right. Observers like Kevin Tofei from Gigaom, likewise, see the Korean company as being the only legitimate organization that can compete neck to neck with the Cupertino giant, the reasons being it controls—as well as owns— much of its product components, and that it follows Apple’s “playbook” strategies effectively (for instance, releasing fewer smartphone models per year).