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Latest smartphone sales figures show Samsung being stressed: Kantar

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Some have accused Apple's latest iPhones of "jumping the shark," of no longer being the be-all and end-all of smartphone. What, though, of its big Android rival, Samsung, which has become the largest cell phone -- not just smartphone -- manufacturer in the world? According to the latest report, released Monday by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (via TechCrunch), Samsung is starting to feel pressure.

Much of that pressure, it seems, comes from home-grown rivals in the countries in question. These mostly low-cost smartphones have been producing results in the entry-level and low- to mid-range segments.

Despite this, Android as a whole continues to dominate. Google's mobile platform now accounts for 69.5 percent of all sales across 12 key markets versus 23.7 percent for second place Apple, according to Kantar's latest sales survey.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar, said:

Android finished 2013 strongly, showing year-on-year share growth across 12 major global markets including Europe, USA, Latin America, China and Japan. Apple has lost share in most countries compared with this time last year, but importantly it has held strong shares in key markets including 43.9 percent in USA, 29.9 percent in Great Britain and 19.0 percnt in China.

It doesn't take a genius, though, to know that growth will take place in the mostly untapped emerging markets. And that is where Samsung is starting to feel some real stress.

After years of accelerated growth, Samsung is now coming under real pressure in most regions, with European share down by 2.2 percentage points to 40.3 percent and in China its share ended the year flat at 23.7 percent.

Kantar continued:

Samsung, the handset maker that has led the charge for Google’s OS, is “now coming under real pressure in most regions” as it faces stronger competition from local players in markets like China. There, Xiaomi led in sales for the last 12 weeks of 2013, and other Chinese handset makers like Huawei also continued to gain ground. It’s still Android, but delivered in different, more locally focused packaging.

Sunnebo wrote:

It’s no surprise that everyone is concentrating on high growth China, but currently local brands are proving clear winners. In December, Xiaomi overtook both Apple and Samsung to become the top selling smartphone in China –- a truly remarkable achievement for a brand which was only started in 2010 and sells its device almost exclusively online.

While Samsung is feeling the pressure of local OEMs, neither it nor Apple are significantly threatened by Windows Phone, although that platform continues a slow rise and continues at a distant third position.

With a 4.4 percent share of all smartphone sales globally, it is hardly a blip on the radar of Apple and Samsung (and other Android OEMs). Its biggest market in terms of market share remains Europe, possibly based on continuing Nokia love, but the European smartphone market is only growing at 3 percent year-over-year, meaning that Microsoft's double-digit sales share across Europe hasn't made a major impact globally.

This data derives from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA’s consumer panel, which the company says is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world. The panel conducts over 240,000 interviews annually in the U.S. alone.

Kantar's report focuses on the sales within a three month period rather than market share figures. Kantar says that such sales shares "exemplify more forward focused trends and should represent the market share for these brands in future."

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