updated 03:00 am EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Results in both arenas suggest very different results by year's end
New numbers from market analyst Canalys -- using shipment data rather than actual sales to end users -- show that Apple continues to dominate as the world's leading PC maker when one includes tablets (as, some argue, should always be the case -- since they are generally used as "light" PC duty replacements). Shipments for the June quarter show Apple moving 18.6 million non-smartphone computers, with Lenovo moving into second place ahead of HP. Even as Apple's growth rate cools off at the end of its product cycle, it is still outselling rivals -- though many are playing catch-up.
Samsung doubled its shipments of "client PCs" -- as Canalys refers to the combined desktop, notebook and tablet numbers -- from a year ago, but still came in fourth with a 9.9 percent share of shipments. Lenovo grew its shipments by 7.3 percent even as Apple, HP, Dell and others saw negative growth. Lenovo and Samsung were the only two companies to increase shipments in the June quarter.
The overall total of client PC shipments grew by the slightest of margins year-over-year, just 0.3 percent. Apple suffered the biggest loss of 11.5 percent but still retained its top position. Apple's decline could be seen as quite normal given that its two top sellers -- the iPhone and iPad -- are due to be refreshed at the end of the fiscal third quarter, allowing other companies an opportunity to debut new products and perhaps gain some leverage (as Nokia, Microsoft, HTC and Samsung are furiously doing). HP, which no longer makes tablets, held on to third place on the strength of its PC shipments alone -- the only company in the top five to do so.
Translating shipments into sales is a nearly impossible task, since only Apple reports shipments as end-user sales. Some companies, notably Samsung, have been found to have inflated the shipment-to-sale ratio by as much as 50 percent, though such figures are unsustainable over the long-term. China-based Lenovo was the strongest overall performer in the June survey, expanding shipments in mainland China as well as Central and South America, allowing them to compete more effectively against Samsung and Google.
On the topic of worldwide smartphone shipments, the numbers overall are much more robust than the anemic PC market. Shipments overall were up 50 percent from a year ago, with Samsung taking the lead at 75.6 million units and Apple in second place at 20 percent with 31.2 million units (y-o-y growth rates of 55 and 20 percent, respectively). While Samsung doubled its shipments of PCs and tablets as mentioned above, in smartphones it was Lenovo that more than doubled its shipments.
Lenovo and other China-based manufacturer, Yulong, took third and fourth place on the backs of wildly increased shipments. Third place Lenovo grew shipments 131 percent to 11.3 million units in smartphones, while Yulong tripled its shipments (216 percent) to 10.8 million units, just surpassing LG. As with PC and tablets, final sales figures from any company other than Apple are inconclusive.
China continues to move from feature phones to smartphones at an incredible pace, receiving 88.1 million of those shipped smartphones (most of which were made in the country), a 108 percent year-over-year increase. The US took second place with 32.9 million units, a more moderate 36 percent increase. India's shipments grew 129 percent to take third place with nine million units, trailed by Japan, the UK and a combined "others" for a total of 238.1 million smartphones.
Android-based phones are said to account for 80 percent of the shipments, though this figure includes millions of Chinese-made phones that can't really be considered to be connected to Google in the way most western Android phones are. Most Chinese Android phones are highly customized to run only state-approved services. Apple's iOS platform is said to have made up just 13 percent of smartphone shipments -- figures that is not reflected in any real-world usage studies of the two platforms.