Samsung steps up its battle against iPhone in Europe


Samsung dominated Apple's European market share last quarter.
Photo: Canalys

Apple had a disappointing last quarter in Europe, where iPhone market share fell by a significant 17%. Into the space previously held by Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi made the biggest gains.

Samsung grew its market presence by 20% versus this time last year. In doing so, it’s almost tripling Apple’s market share. Xiaomi, meanwhile, increased 48%, although it still lags behind Apple.

“Samsung obviously had enough of losing share in Europe,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Ben Stanton. “For years, a focus on operating profit has stifled its product strategy. But this year, the shackles are off, and winning back market share is its clear priority. But its success is not solely due to product strategy.”

“Samsung has been quick to capitalize on Huawei’s U.S. Entity List problems, working behind the scenes to position itself as a stable alternative in conversations with important retailers and operators. A lack of brand loyalty among users of low-end and mid-range Android smartphones, which has blighted Samsung for so long, has become the catalyst for its best performance in years. Europe keeps its reputation as one of the most brand-volatile smartphone markets in the world, rife with danger, but also opportunity.”

Challenges for Apple

In all, Canalys’ figures suggest that Apple shipped 6.4 million iPhones to Europe in the quarter. That’s next to Samsung’s 18.3 million. It means that Apple has around 14.1% marketshare to Samsung’s 40.6%. In this quarter last year, Apple had around 17% market share to Samsung’s 33.9%.

Ultimately, market share isn’t the only metric that matters in this. As the whole Android vs. iOS battle underlines, market share doesn’t mean everything if you’re not making the biggest profits. Apple continues to dominate smartphone profits.

However, the rise of companies like Xiaomi do showcase just how competitive this market now is. As Apple’s last earnings call shows, the iPhone is no longer the majority of Apple’s revenue. While it’s still the company’s single biggest product, the balance is starting to tip.

Will Apple be able to claw back some of that lost market share (or just shipment volumes) with the iPhone 11? We’ll have to wait and see.