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opinion 3 min read 17 comments

Numbers don't lie: the party's over for Samsung

Samsung is the undisputed market leader among smartphone manufacturers. But Apple steals everyone's show in one thing: the attention for the iPhone is much greater. Now the Galaxy S9 is said to sell worse than the S8, which already fell behind the Galaxy S7. The coming Note 9 should be a saviour, because Samsung stands with his back to the wall.

At the end of the day, smartphones are not about technical innovations, but about hard facts: What are the sales figures? Reuters writes that the numbers of the Galaxy-S series have recently sunk through the bank. The S9 sold worse than the S8, but the S8 had already sold worse than the S7. At Apple, on the other hand, iPhone X is said to sell surprisingly well.

Samsung's profit figures are suffering from the slump in sales, and that naturally calls the analysts onto the scene. How should Samsung take countermeasures? This quickly brings the Galaxy Note 9 into view. Because this is the next big hit from Samsung and will be officially presented on August 9.

However, anyone who dares to take a look at the current rumors about Note 9 or at the comments in our rumours overview must admit that Note 9 will probably not be the savior that investors hope for. A new S-Pen stylus with Bluetooth is already the highest of expectations. Looking back, one has to admit that the great innovations have not recently been seen at Samsung; on the contrary, standstill has been the order of the day in recent years. What can the S9 do so much better than the S6?

Androidpit Samsung S6 2334780
Samsung Galaxy S6: as good as the Galaxy S9? / © AndroidPIT

Could these uninspiring presentations have perhaps rubbed off on the audience?

Tristan Rayner, blogger for Android Authority, puts his finger in the wound. Using Google Trends, he tried to determine the search volume around the past Galaxy S smartphones.

The colored lines trace the search volume in relation to each other. It is clearly visible that the Galaxy S5 or S6 have aroused a huge interest among Internet users around the time of presentation. Since then, the peaks have been falling further. 

Google Trends: the flagships are sinking

Let's continue the analysis of Google Trends with an iPhone or the Galaxy Note. And see there: Everywhere the same picture. The peaks of the search volume are always on the presentations, but they are smaller and smaller. Now, of course, you can discuss whether, for example, the Plus versions falsify the picture. But even taking this into account, the big picture remains: smartphone launches are no longer what they used to be.

Granted: Apple is also in a justification crisis: why it is so urgent to have the new iPhone? But Apple's figures are stable, so analysts aren't panicking yet. But Samsung fan are hungry for a big coup from from the Korean company and some believe that Galaxy X could be just the trick. But hope is deceptive. It cannot be assumed that Samsung can sell the X in quantities that could contribute to saving the balance sheets.

What do you think the decline of this smartphone titan? What does Samsung need to do to get people excited again?

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  • I stopped being a fan of Samsung Mobile Devices for a short time, then they brought back full OTG-(hml) support, so my note8 is docked as a Droid PC most of the time, either tethered or 4G'd to multiple devices. AND then there's sidesync, the true lapdock experience! It's truly amazing and makes an incredible little PDA that truly rocks, especially considering the new games it fully supports and shreds!!!!


  • Smartphone launches are no longer what they used to be.


  • I think Samsung took a wrong turn down a blind alley by aping Apple, trying to build an "ecosystem" to lock in users against competing Android brands by way of Bixby and other branded services. There will always be a flagship niche, though it may be shrinking along with mindless telco contract renewals / mindless replacements of the user's last device, taking a bigger and bigger chunk out of monthly paychecks.


    • That's what differentiates Samsung. Otherwise, what's the difference? Samsung Pay is a big hit for example. Why would they want to give that away?


  • One hopes that eventually a company will start making phones that actually provide value to the end user. I have exactly three things I look for in a phone: No bloatware, replaceable batteries, and SD cards. I know from the comments on this and other android sites that far fewer vocal people care about "five cameras and face recognition" vs those who want "will get the latest version of android immediately and regular security patches". But not one android company seems to share the same values as its consumers.

    Then they could try releasing a new model only when they have a reason to, don't release one every year just to be presenting at a convention. The other problem with "not enough innovation" in the flagships is that everyone knows they don't have to wait long for the next one to come out. If companies built their phones to last through a two or three year sales cycle, instead of an annual cycle, I'm sure the battery performance (among other things) would be extremely different. But it will never happen because stock holders don't like long-term investments as much as they do short-term ones.


  • The Mobile market would Struggle without Samsung producing phones,screens and chips,Samsung seems to be into a sticky position with consumers,after there battle with Apple,seems to back firing on Samsung with there pricing of there phones,Samsung seem to think if Apple can get away with over pricing there phones why can"t they do the same,and 2018 seems to be year when consumers are at last,thinking about how much they will spend on phones,as they are getting more expensive every year,so consumers are now staying loyal to the phones they have got use too,and spending money on Sim deals instead of phone contracts,i pay £15 a month on 12gb of Data and unlimited calls and text,which is a lot better than signing up to phone contract,so if i wanted the Samsung S9 Plus on contract it would be £40 a month for 24 months,so some sort of regulations should have been brought in years ago to stop Apple over pricing there phones,but if they can get away doing it the rest have thought the same,this is why the mobile market as got out of order now,so 2019 might be even worse,and companies like Sony or Lg might be finished soon


  • I get so sick of the Apple sells more crap. Apple makes maybe 2 phones per year. Yes, they sell MILLIONS. But, comparing Samsung & Apple in sales is like saying GM doesn't sell many cars if you only count the pickups.
    Now, if you look at sales based on the OS, Android sells millions more than the iOS.
    If every tom, dick & harry sold Apple licensed OS phones, Apples market share would be reduced greatly, but because they have a monopoly on the OS, they are the only ones making it.


  • Smartphone sales are declining because people don't upgrade their device every year, and there is no point doing so. New phone bring very little change in use, and useless features, a slightly better camera and CPU are not enough. A phone if taken care of can last at least 3 years, and during that time, more so in recent years, very few new things are added. Nowdays every decent mid to top tier phone has 3-4 Gigs of RAM an octa-core CPU, and 2 to 4 cameras depending on the model.

    So Samsung and others should instead focus on mid range phones with smaller profit margin, but selling more of them generates more profit in the end. Chinese manufacturers do this and it works out for them pretty well. For flagships i would say make them in smaller quantities for smaller groups like phone enthusiasts and power users.

    Oh and maybe it would be a good idea to not take away useful features like a 3.5mm jack, charging port, and so on.
    Phones are becoming just nice displays and nothing else. They barely last a day on full charge, they are way too big, like 6.4 inch for a phone, really; that is too big even for 2 handed use. And at the end of the day you may drop it and brake it in a glimpse of an eye.


    • Agree with you 100%. Samsung and Apple are beating each other for the 1%. Both don't care much about the rest. The high end market is over saturated, nothing left to gain. Give consumers something decent in the $500 range (like the OnePlus 6) and watch the sales figures fly.


  • Apple is a darling American company. It is also a successful company. So it will get a lot of free publicity from the media. The #1 reason why Apple rakes in so much profit from selling phones (and no one ever talks about this) is the fact that Apple is the only company that makes the iPhones. If it were to allow other device manufacturers to have access to its iOS codes, then it would be in the same boat as Samsung (and others) in the Android sector. By this I mean Apple will have lots of competition. Imagine Motorola, OnePlus, HTC, etc....all making phones running iOS. Apple wouldn't be the rich company that it is today.

    Samsung is in this predicament (decreasing phone sales) because the Chinese OEMs are producing very compelling phones for less money. The Android market is cutthroat. The Note 9 will not be a hit because chances are, it will look much like the Note 8. Basically, it will be a S9+ with a pen. Innovations have plateaued. There isn't much left to innovate. The next big thing will be "on screen fingerprint reader". But that's it, done. At the end of the day, a smartphone is just a communication device that doubles as an internet device. Temper your expectations, people!


    • Also if the US stopped helping Apple by banning other OEMs like huawei I bet there market share would be no way near what it is now.


      • Glad someone else see's this! I will go to my grave thinking the lobbyist from Apple & Samsung tossed a ton of money in DC, to get congress to put pressure on the FCC, who put pressure on the carriers, not to carry Huawei phones.
        Xiamoi better be careful, as they are wanting to enter the U.S. market. The duopoly will go after them too, to protect their turff, and overpriced phones.


    • It won't be an S9+ with a pen.