updated 07:54 pm EDT, Wed June 5, 2013
Survey based on surveys of cellular dealers, shows sharp difference
On the heels of a recent study showing the Android platform losing ground in US marketshare to rival Apple, Canaccord Genuity has released data showing that Samsung's Galaxy S4 took the top seller position at three of the four major US carriers' outlets in May -- with the exception being AT&T, where the eight-month-old iPhone 5 continues to be the most popular model. The survey, which only checked direct carrier stores' sales of handsets, gave the S4 the top spot at Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, with the iPhone in second place at all three.
Given that the survey does not include sales of iPhones from Apple retail stores or Apple directly, the figures may paint a somewhat misleading picture -- but it is unquestionable that the newer Galaxy S4 has increased its sales significantly as it became more widely available in the US, and that in the scope of cellular resellers it has taken up a strong, popular position with customers upgrading from other models or the Galaxy S III. AT&T's long relationship with the iPhone also plays a role in the results, as most AT&T customers are on the iPhone because of the carrier's much longer relationship with Apple -- and iPhone buyers have proven fiercely loyal to the brand.
The news for Samsung was not all good, however. In an interesting twist to the survey, the HTC One took third place in May at AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, while Nokia's Lumia 928 took third place at Verizon.
These results pushed the Galaxy Note II, the previous third best-selling handset over the past four months, out of the top three. The strength of the S4 at three of the four carriers was enough to push Canaccord to claim Samsung had taken the top smartphone vendor crown away from Apple -- but in addition to ignoring direct sales (from Apple as well as other vendors), the survey appears to overlook the fact that Sprint and T-Mobile are not equal in size to Verizon or AT&T, the latter of which is the largest carrier in the US.
Overall, Apple continues to enjoy a dominance as the top brand of smartphone in the US, with a recent ComScore survey rating it as having 39.2 percent of the total US base of smartphone users, with Samsung at 22 percent (Android overall, including all manufacturers, has a higher share of the base, just over 52 percent). More significantly, Apple has been able to grow its percentage of the base faster than Samsung for the past several months -- despite the lack of any new models, nor the imminent expectation of a new model.
he next iPhone models are thought to be coming out in late summer, though no official timetable has been made clear. Other speculation has surfaced that Apple may release one new iPhone model sometime sooner, leaving its full lineup to be refreshed in the fall as it was last year. Canaccord, like most other analysts, believes Apple will release a "low cost" iPhone model later in the year that is expected to spur sales in addition to a new "premium" model, particularly in developing markets around the world.