Can Apple Halt This Samsung Surge?

Samsung (SSNLF.PK) will increase its global smartphone lead over Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) this year with a wide product lineup that helps it achieve 35 percent growth. Apple will grow, too, but may need a much more aggressive move, such as launching a cheaper “iPhone mini” targeting users of lower-end smartphones, market researcher Strategy Analytics told Reuters.

While Samsung is forecast to sell 290 million smartphones, up from 215 million in 2012, Apple is likely to reach 180 million this year, up 33 percent from last year. This would give the Korean company a 33 percent share of market, up from 2012’s 31 percent, while Apple will hold 21 percent, up from last year’s 20 percent.

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“We expect Samsung to slightly extend its lead over Apple this year because of its larger multitier product portfolio,” the firm’s Neil Mawston told Reuters. “Samsung plays in more segments and this should enable it to capture more volume than Apple.”

Mawston does not see Apple brining an iPhone mini to the market until after 2013, but will eventually need it. “We think Apple will have to launch an ‘iPhone mini’ at some point over the next three years to address the hundreds of millions of prepaid users worldwide that cannot afford the current iPhone,” he said. “The iPhone 5 is growing fast and profitably right now, so there is little incentive for Apple to launch an ‘iPhone mini’ this year.”

Instead, the smaller iPhone is likely to arrive next year when Apple is “forced to discover fresh growth streams,” he said.

With key markets beginning to get saturated, global smartphone shipments will grow 27 percent to 875 million this year, the rate way below last year’s 41 percent growth, the research firm said.

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