Smartphone sales

Samsung is riding at the top of the smartphone food-chain — let's hope they remember how they got there

I was looking through the data at ABI Research today about Q3 2013 smartphone sales. At first glance, I saw the pie chart I expected to see, with Android having over 80 percent of the worldwide smartphone market and was ready to close the tab. We know Android outsells everyone, and that just wasn't news I wanted to share. But right before I clicked away, a number at the top caught my eye.

Samsung sold 35 percent of all smartphones sold in Q3 of 2013. That's a figure that's fairly easy to come up with in the past if you wanted to do a little work, but there it was, laid out just like that. After a little poking around at their data, and calling in Andrew, our financial and numbers wünderkind, we realized just what that means.

According to ABI Research, Samsung sells more smartphones than Apple, Nokia and BlackBerry combined.

They also sell more than all other Android vendors singly, and likely more than the rest of the top five combined. We don't have that data handy, and aren't about to guess. And quite frankly, none of the other vendors have the history or the weight of total sales behind them that Apple, Nokia and BlackBerry do. It wasn't too awful long ago that they were the big three — the ones to beat, if you like — when it comes to domination of the mobile market.

This matters. Since the huge majority of these are likely to be Android phones (more data we don't have from ABI and won't guess at) it matters even more to us as Android enthusiasts. Samsung is clearly the dominant player in the entire Android ecosystem. If you had any doubts before, wash them away.

We just got finished seeing all the new tools Samsung is using to attract more interest in their smartphones. Regardless of what you may read elsewhere, this was an event centered around five new SDKs, four of which were Android only and one that was Android, iOS and JavaScript / HTML 5 (for the multiple screen APIs). Samsung is certainly all-in with Android, and Google has carried them to the top of smartphone mountain by giving them Android to fold, spindle and mutilate as they please.

Google has carried Samsung to the top of smartphone mountain

With their new push for the enterprise market, these numbers are going to grow. You and I may not be enamored with things like boosted security and Knox support, but we don't matter to Samsung. We're outliers. Samsung will spend the money to do what it takes for their phones to be as popular in a business environment as they are with us "common" folks. That's good news for people forced to use locked-up corporate phones. Let's hope Samsung also starts to offer more "developer" phones without all the extra security — and that people see the benefit in buying them.

For now, all this is still a good thing. Samsung isn't likely to abandon an entire platform that someone else writes for them and improves yearly for free, but we also need to watch closely. Samsung will do what is best for Samsung, like any other company. I don't expect Samsung to suddenly really care about Tizen, or provide more than the token support they now offer (note that I am a Tizen fan, I'm just realistic knowing that Samsung doesn't really care about it). Not when Google does the heavy lifting for them, and they are still free to make it Samsung on the top. But I can't completely ignore the Chicken Littles out there who are certain Samsung is ready to leave Android and ruin everything — because if they did, things would not be pretty for Android sales and support.