Friday, 15 July 2016 12:44

Smartphone figures rubbery at best! Featured

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There are lies, damned lies and statistics, according to former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Alcatel’s Australian boss Sam Skontos has called out recent smartphone market share reports – especially about how the data is collected.

iTWire’s Alex Zaharov-Reutt reported on the Kantar World Panel Comtech’s latest market research that essentially says Huawei is the fastest growing smartphone vendor. But is it?

Skontos says the figures reflect the collection methodology and explains that Kantar Worldpanel Comtech is based on market research – not on either verifiable "ship-in" or "ship out" figures which show a very different story.

“Kantar uses a pool of people in 60 different countries and polls them quarterly using subjective questions like ‘Have you changed your phone in the last quarter’ or ‘Are you likely to change your phone in the next quarter’ and so on. It is a legitimate use of market research to show sentiment, but it is not at all accurate for market share in that it is not based on manufacturer’s actual sell-in figures as fed into International Data Corporation (IDC) or sell-out figures as measured by Gesellschaft für Konsumforschun (GFK)," he said.

iTWire has noticed substantial discrepancies between all the market share reports – Kantar, Gartner, GFK, IDC, Trendforce (that uses component manufacturer’s figures), and more.

iTWire was given approved access to confidential IDC figures and it seems these are more accurate as they take into account actual sales (sell-in) to distributors and direct customers worldwide. Over a year it averages out things like channel stuffing (where large quantities are ordered, but may remain in stock for some time). They also reflect issues like dumping (at lower cost) when models do not sell well etc.

What they all don’t reflect is the average value per unit and the market share by type – value, mass, mid and flagship.

Skontos says that because of the different methodologies there are far too many unsubstantiated claims, and he wants to set the record straight.

“We appreciate Kantar's role as broad market researcher. We feel that its methodology means its results cannot be extrapolated to provide a true reflection of market share in Australia. On the contrary, we know from our own sales data that this is simply not the case. To be clear, this is not simply a challenge to determine ‘who has the biggest market share’? There is a much bigger issue here; that speaks to the honesty and openness which some companies in the mobile market are approaching and treating Australian consumers,” he said.

The facts are that in Australia Alcatel is, by units sold, the third largest smartphone maker shipping 509,600 units in the 2015 calendar year and notching up an impressive 126,501 for Q1, 2016. Alcatel has a large range of phones sold via corner stores, petrol stations, grocery, mass market retailers, and white labelled by Telco’s – the brand is everywhere. Globally in 2015 it ranked in the top five for smartphone shipments.

“The Australian consumer who is looking for a great value handset has embraced our brand, which is why we have hit the number three position for three quarters in a row. We appreciate the growing recognition by Australians as one of the best value handset propositions in the market,” Skontos added.

 Apple shipped the most smartphones, 4.2 million, in 2015, followed by Samsung at 2.77 million. The wild card in IDC’s Australian figures is Telstra at number four that shipped 655,412 handsets – this is not broken out by brand. That same is true of handsets sold by other telcos.

IDC figures show that HTC and Huawei are neck-and-neck for fifth and sixth place, with Microsoft at seventh place selling 47,063 Windows 10 Mobiles in Q1.

IDC figures for Q2 in Australia will be released in a couple of weeks and that will be even more telling.

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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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