Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is expected to widen its lead over Apple Inc in global smartphone sales this year with 35 percent growth, helped by a broad product lineup, market researcher Strategy Analytics told Reuters on Friday.
Apple, returning the offensive, could roll out a smaller, cheaper "iPhone Mini" next year to grab market share by targeting demand from users of lower-end smartphones, Strategy Analytics said.
"We expect Samsung to slightly extend its lead over Apple this year because of its larger multitier product portfolio," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in an e-mail interview with Reuters.
Global smartphone shipments will jump 27 percent to 875 million shipments this year, slowing from last year's torrid 41 percent pace as growth eased in many key markets such as North America, China, the developed economies of Asia, and Western Europe, Mawston said.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics is forecast to sell 290 million smartphones this year, up from a projected 215 million in 2012, the research firm said. Apple's smartphone sales are projected to reach 180 million this year, up 33 percent from last year, slightly trailing Samsung's 35 percent increase.
This will give Samsung a 33 percent share of the 2013 smartphone market, up from last year's estimated 31 percent, while Apple will hold 21 percent, versus last year's 20 percent.
Apple, the world's most valuable technology company, and Samsung Electronics, the most valuable in Asia, have battled fiercely in the global mobile device market, which they dominate, although Samsung is also a supplier to Apple.
Samsung may launch the Galaxy S IV, a new version of its flagship smartphone, in April, and the Galaxy Note III phablet and a series of other new smartphones over the course of this year, media reports and analysts have said recently.
"Samsung plays in more segments and this should enable it to capture more volume than Apple (assuming Apple does not launch an 'iPhone Mini' this year)," Mawston said. Brian J. White, a researcher at Topeka Capital Markets, on Wednesday raised the possibility that Apple may launch a smaller and lower-priced iPhone – the iPhone Mini – to further penetrate markets such as China and India.
White said in a report that he believed Apple will launch the next iPhone, the iPhone 5S, in May or June, and offer more options in screen sizes. This would eventually