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Samsung’s mobile handset market share will take a commanding 11% lead over its competitors in 2013. The lifestyle focus of the S4 will drive this imposing lead.

IHS   iSuppli: Top-5 handset vendors in 2012 (ranking by unit shipments)

Rank

Company

2011

2012

1

Samsung

24%

29%

2

Nokia

30%

24%

3

Apple

7%

10%

4

ZTE

6%

6%

5

LG

6%

4%

Source: IHS iSuppli, compiled by Digitimes, March 2013

The S4 roll out is the biggest, most expensive and most comprehensive any handset maker has attempted. Some 327 Telco’s in 155 countries are participating with handset availability from end of April. This 5” AMOLED display, Android phone, phablet, whatever is the most anticipated handset ever and may generate scenes reminiscent of Apple with line ups to get this must have product.

In part Samsung have progressively bought market share with a massive PR, Advertising ($401M compared to Apple's $333M spent in the US market in 2012) and marketing effort that has hit pay dirt – everyone is talking about it and it i he next handset is releasedpany on.n a sdmall market share sets so there is room for three.s talking about it and its something to aspire tots g next time.ision was not ill advised. at Android is now synonomous with s something to aspire to. But to a larger degree it is because the phone is incredibly good if you are looking for a 5” Android smartphone with new toys like 13MP camera, gesture recognition and eye tracking (as well as a TV remote…)

Samsung is gambling the farm on the S4 – get enough people to buy it to stop them ever going back to Apple iOSphere. Is Android inferior to iOS? Apple says so and Samsung is not well respected for its software development capabilities either - so yes its inferior but Samsung now has the ball and is unlikely to drop it.

What does the table above tell us?

First that Apple does not have a Samsung S4 killer at present– the rumoured 5S can’t compete in the same space – it is not a 5” smartphone. Apple expects sales will decline by as much as 30% from the 45 million handsets shipped in Q4, 2012. Apple is not out of the picture and can well afford to outdo Samsung next time around (but then we never know what Apple is thinking so they could well release a 5” phone or watch sooner rather than later).

HTC has dropped out of the top 10 handset vendor rankings. It has reported an 81% sequential decline in net profits for Q4, 2012. It’s not the end of HTC but their shareholders must be asking what went wrong with this quality brand. The answer is simply that Android is now synonymous with Samsung making it too hard to differentiate.

Nokia’s fortunes are looking better too and reinforcing that the Microsoft Windows 8 Phone decision was not ill advised. I have said before that the relationship between the Windows desktop and its mobile OS is very strong and almost assures Windows 8 phones of the third place in the smartphone market.

Blackberry is nowhere to be seen in the top 10 yet it is by no means a slouch in the smart phone race – it has a different agenda .

What is the best handset?

There is no denying the S4 is well ahead on specifications compared to the HTC One (4.7” Android), LG Optimus G (5” Android), BlackBerry Z10 (4.2” BB10), Apple iPhone 5 (4” or future iOS7/5S) and Nokia 920 (4.5” Windows 8 Phone) until the next ‘killer’ handset is released.

Yet these phones all sell relatively well. That is because there is no one size fits all. BlackBerry will sell well to corporate market competing squarely with iPhone and Nokia Lumia. These markets comprise hundreds of millions of handsets so there is room for three players.

Android has conquered the consumer market and that is potentially billions of handsets where even a small market share is enough to build a profitable company on.

So there is no best – just what is best for you.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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