Mobile Faceoff Mid-2015: Samsung vs. Apple

Galaxy S6 phone and iPhone 6 displayed side-by-side

With the top three selling mobile phones in the United States produced by the two companies, it may seem that the rivalry between Samsung and Apple is settling in for the long haul. However, the most recent numbers provide a window into how tumultuous the market is in the highly coveted wireless industry. Apple’s newest launches, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, have enjoyed considerable success, in large part because of changes to the operating system, but more importantly, finally increasing the screen size in an effort to appeal to more business users. Samsung’s most recent launches, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, generated considerable buzz from consumers upon their release, but industry analysts speculate that this interest diminished quickly due to a lack of innovative design in the newest Galaxy models.

Despite having the iPhone 6, the number one selling phone, Apple actually lost ground in overall market presence among smartphone users in the first part of 2015. Around 80% of the American population has a smartphone, of which 31% are running a device that has iOS. Compared to this total, roughly 66% of smartphone users have a device running the Android platform. However, in terms of overall profit, Apple saw significant gains during the first few months of the year. This growth has been, in large part, sustained by foreign interest. A prime example of Apple’s profitability in a year when there are no major upgrades planned for the new iPhone is the company’s request for the production of an additional 92 million units. Most of these are destined to be sold in China, although the size of the request to Apple’s manufactures has led some analysts to speculate that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus may have more upgrades than initially planned.

Meanwhile, Samsung is scrambling to address its sales issues. Over the last thirty-six months, the company has seen its wireless profits fall every quarter. Part of the issue with the latest phone launch was related to production trouble for the Galaxy S6 Edge screens. Even worse for Samsung though was the negative publicity generated by poor reviews on social media for the S6. Complaints on Facebook and Twitter highlighted underwhelming battery life, problems with clarity when completing calls, and overall concerns that the phone itself was unreliable. While its main line of wireless phones has not lived up to expectations, Samsung’s specialty phones, particularly the Active branch that is designed to survive screen scratches, exposure to water, and the occasional drop onto the floor from table height, has seen remarkable growth. Until it can address the reliability concerns associated with its flagship phones, Samsung may turn its attention to consumers who are looking for a sturdy mobile device that does not require a bulky, limiting case.