Apple’s Big iPhones Challenging Samsung On Its Home Turf

Apple launched its first large screen devices – the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus – last year, taking the phablet battle to Samsung. And now the data shows that the U.S. firm is giving a tough fight to the Korean firm in its home market.

Apple’s big screen phones made the difference

Counterpoint, a Hong Kong-based market research company, said that Apple devices accounted for 33% of the market in November 2014, smashing the earlier record by a wide margin. The data revealed that Apple is the first foreign OEM to ever go beyond a 20% market share in the South Korean smartphone market.

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“Apple’s share in South Korea, where users have long been accustomed to the Samsung Galaxy Note phablets and other larger-screen Galaxy phones, has been gaining ever since the launch of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s first large-screen iPhone,” said Tom Kang, director of Counterpoint.

What’s interesting is that before the launch of the iPhone 6, in June 2014, Apple’s market share was around the range of 4% to 5%. Referring to the year over year data, Jennifer Booton of MarketWatch said that Apple’s iPhone sales for July 2015 almost tripled to 14%, and this was before the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

Samsung’s loss is Apple’s gain

In data released Thursday, Counterpoint Research noted that many users of Google’s Android operating system switched to iOS, but the majority of Apple’s gain has come at Samsung’s expense. The Korean firm had a market share of 59% in July. Adding to that, a Korean survey in June 2015 found that Apple beat both Samsung and LG in customer satisfaction.

“Samsung still has a loyal following in Korea,” said IDC. “But Apple is certainly making a run.”

Samsung was able to recover some of the ground lost to Apple by taking on smaller manufacturers such as LG Electronics and Pantech. Counterpoint Research informs readers that LG’s share went down to 22% from 29%, while Pantech’s share dived from 4% to just 1%.

Apple’s growth has slowed a bit now, but Kang believes Apple can still grow with a focus on the “iPhone ecosystem effect,” a concept that keeps users sticking to the brand with Apple’s interconnected operating systems.

On Thursday, Apple shares closed up 1.5% at $111.86. Year to date, the stock is down by almost 1%, while in the last year, shares are up by over 11%.