The latest comScore report on the various smartphone manufacturers’ share of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) market showed that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continued to dominate as the top smartphone maker in the U.S. According to the latest data from comScore’s MobiLens and Mobile Metrix services, Apple maintained its top spot with a 42.1 percent share of the OEM market in the U.S. during the three-month period ending in June. Similarly, Samsung (SSNLF.PK) maintained its second-place ranking with a 28.6 percent share. LG maintained its distant third-place position with a 6.4 percent share, Motorola stayed in fourth place with a 5.9 percent share, and HTC held onto fifth place with a 4.8 percent share. According to comScore, 173 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the June quarter, a nearly 72 percent mobile market penetration rate.
However, despite the continuation of the status quo, comScore’s data also revealed what could be a sign of trouble ahead for Apple arch-rival Samsung. According to comScore, Apple grew its U.S. smartphone market share during what has traditionally been its “slow” smartphone quarter. Apple’s U.S. market share grew from 41.4 percent during the March quarter to 42.1 percent in June. Although a 0.7 percentage point change is not a huge increase in market share, it is significant when considering that Apple’s second quarters have historically been slow quarters for iPhone sales since many consumers tend to hold off on purchasing a new iPhone until the new models are launched in September during the third quarter.
While Samsung also boosted its U.S. market share from 27 percent in the March quarter to 28.6 percent in June, this is less impressive when considering that the Korea-based company launched its latest flagship Galaxy S5 in April, at the start of the second quarter. However, despite Samsung’s advantage of having released a brand-new model during the June quarter, Apple was able to maintain a respectable growth rate ahead of its highly-anticipated iPhone 6 launch this fall.
Even more troubling for Samsung is the expectation that Apple will debut its first phablet-sized iPhone this fall. According to reports from multiple media outlets, Apple is expected to launch two iPhone models with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Samsung has dominated the smartphone/tablet hybrid market ever since it invented the category with the introduction of its Galaxy Note phablets in 2011. However, with Apple providing an iOS-based option for consumers looking for a high-end phablet device, Samsung may see further OEM market share erosion.
Meanwhile, all of the other major Android-based smartphone rivals failed to grow their market share during the June quarter. According to comScore, LG, Motorola, and HTC all saw their market share decrease during the second quarter.
Apple’s growth in the smartphone OEM market was also reflected in the overall smartphone platform market. Although Google’s open source Android mobile operating system maintained its dominance of the U.S. smartphone platform market with a 51.9 percent share, this was a contraction from the 52.2 percent share it held during the March quarter. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS grew its market share from 41.4 percent in March to 42.1 percent in June. Besides Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Apple’s iOS was the only mobile operating system to see growth during the June quarter. BlackBerry continued to lose market share, dropping from 2.7 percent in March to 2.4 percent in June, while Symbian’s market share fell to a negligible 0.1 percent.
Samsung and other Android-based smartphone makers still have a numbers advantage in the mobile operating system market in the U.S., as well as the worldwide smartphone market. According to market research firm IDC, Samsung held a 25.2 percent share of the global smartphone market in the second quarter of 2014, compared to Apple’s 11.9 percent share. On the other hand, IDC also noted that Samsung’s market share decreased by 7 percent compared to a year ago, largely due to the emergence of low-cost smartphone makers in China.
Meanwhile, as noted by CEO Tim Cook during the company’s fiscal third quarter results call, Apple’s iPhone sales were up 55 percent year-over-year in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries. This suggests that the emergence of low-cost Chinese smartphone competitors has had much more of an impact on Samsung than it has on Apple.
Thanks to Apple’s surprising growth during its traditionally slow fiscal third quarter and its upcoming releases of two larger-screen iPhone models, there is the possibility that even more dramatic changes are coming in the U.S. market during the next several quarters.
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