Apple iPhone Beats Samsung in Smartphone Market Share, Can it Hang On with iPhone 8?

Gartner releases Q4-2016 smartphone market share report showing Apple in first place and Samsung in second place

Apple has once again leap-frogged past Samsung to nab the top spot in smartphone market share, according to a report by research firm Gartner.

The two companies keep changing places with each other in their quest to be the dominant global smartphone player. Although a similar report from IDC showed nearly the same results, the numbers were slightly different. We’ve covered that in another article, linked below:

Apple and Samsung Run Neck to Neck in Smartphone Market Share 2016 (Q4), IDC Says

Gartner’s report shows that there were 431.5 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2016, while IDC shows 428.5 million. However, both of them show Apple in the lead. Gartner shows Apple’s market share at 17.9% and Samsung’s at 17.8%, while IDC numbers show 18.3% for Apple and 18.1% for Samsung.

The difference in numbers is not important. What’s important is the fact that Apple just shaved past Samsung during the most crucial quarter of the year.

That means Apple is in serious trouble, and there’s a big question mark around whether or not it can retail first place this year as well. Samsung typically overtakes Apple during the second quarter, right after launching their annual Galaxy S series flagship phone. Last year, however, there was only the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge – no Note 7 for all practical purposes.

The big point here is that Samsung was able to match Apple’s performance despite only having one product family on the shelves. That could mean one of two things: either Samsung’s performance in the smartphone market is becoming stronger by the year, or Apple is in serious trouble, as I said before.

While we are not willing to say that Apple’s position has permanently weakened, it’s amply clear that Samsung is turning out to be the stronger of the two. And 2017’s results will validate that. In fact, 2017 will offer a level playing field for both companies because Apple, too, has more than just the flagship iPhone 8 planned for this year: iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus on the cards as well.

That said, if Samsung can pull off a string of launches this year that include the Galaxy S8 family, a Note 8 and their new, foldable smartphones, it’s very likely that they’ll take a permanent spot at the top of the global smartphone market.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing to do but wait and see.

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