Samsung Neck-and-Neck with iPhone in Q4

Posted on January 30, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 11 Comments

Samsung reported this week that it earned a profit of $6 billion on revenues of $50 billion in the quarter ending December 31. The firm also reported that it earned $23 billion in profits and $190 billion in revenues in all of calendar year 2020.

In the bad news department, Samsung reported that its quarterly revenues dipped 38 percent year-over-year thanks to falling memory prices.

“The Memory Business reported a year-on-year decline in profit as DRAM prices continued its downward trend despite rising shipments,” the Samsung announcement notes. “However, earnings increased from the previous quarter, underpinned by increasing demand from data centers and other major applications as well as cost reduction. The logic chip business posted a YoY profit growth on demand for high-resolution image sensors and HPC (high-performance computing) chips.”

The good news? Despite Apple’s holiday surge, Samsung sold just as many smartphones in the fourth quarter as did the iPhone maker. Both firms are estimated to have sold about 70 million units in the quarter.

“Quarterly earnings improved significantly for the Mobile Business in annual terms, thanks to solid sales of flagship Galaxy smartphones and lineup changes to improve profitability for mass-market models,” Samsung noted. “Profit fell from the previous quarter, however, due to the fading effect from a new flagship product launch.”

Samsung also said that it expects improvements to its overall business in 2020 despite uncertainties triggered in part by the recent Coronavirus outbreak. The pace of 5G rollouts, it said, “remains to be seen” but Samsung said it would “differentiate” in 5G with various System-on-Chip products and high-resolution sensors. Its enhanced lineup of 5G-based smartphones should also help that business in the coming year, it said.

“The company plans to differentiate its premium smartphones by expanding 5G adoption and introducing new designs for foldable products,” Samsung added.

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Comments (11)

11 responses to “Samsung Neck-and-Neck with iPhone in Q4”

  1. christian.hvid

    “The Memory Business reported a year-on-year decline in profit as DRAM prices continued its downward trend despite rising shipments” 


    This can only get worse for Samsung and other DRAM manufacturers. The amount of RAM that is actually meaningful to put into a device seems to have leveled out at 4-8 GB on a standard phone and 8-16 GB on a standard PC. If manufacturers can't counter falling prices with higher capacity chips, DRAM profits will soon be a distant... well, memory.

  2. jbinaz

    "Samsung also said that it expects improvements to its overall business in 2020 despite uncertainties triggered in part by the recent Coronavirus outbreak."


    While I get the Coronavirus outbreak is serious, did they specify what the uncertainties are? Impacts on their workforce? Impact on sales?

    • wright_is

      In reply to jbinaz:

      Supply chain, for a start. A lot of stuff comes out of China, plus flights and travel are being restricted by a lot of companies.

      Webasto in Germany shut down their HQ in Munich this week after 4 people were infected. Staff were let back into the building in small numbers yesterday to collect their laptops, but the building will remain shutdown as a precaution until the weekend. All staff had to be checked out (only the 4 were positive and remain in hospital). All international travel has been put on ice.

      If workforces are hit hard, it will affect production and if people are worrying about an epidemic, they probably aren't in the mood to buy new, unnecessary Shiny.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to wright_is:

        While it's always wise to err on the side of caution, at this point it looks like the economic effects of the reaction to the Wuhan virus is a bigger threat to people's lives and livelihood than the virus itself.

        • ejuly

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          " the economic effects of the reaction to the Wuhan virus is a bigger threat to people's lives and livelihood than the virus itself"


          Spoken like a true first worlder.....

          • christian.hvid

            In reply to ejuly:

            No, on the contrary - the people who suffer the most from the economic effects of the widespread panic are not first worlders, but people in poor countries who can't withstand the financial impact.


            I might have to eat my words one day, but right now the Wuhan virus looks significantly less dangerous to the general population than the seasonal flu. Or any of the other gazillion threats we all live under.


            On the positive side, the forceful reaction to the new virus proves that the world is actually capable of "acting as if the house is on fire", to quote my dear countrywoman Greta. Now if the world could only react as forcefully to the REALLY scary stuff that's happening...

  3. glenn8878

    The good news is actually iPhone selling even more to match Samsung. We never expected that when iPhone declined the previous 2 years. I thought Apple stopped reporting unit sales.

  4. prebengh

    But Apples revenue on iPhone alone is more than Samsungs total revenue for the quarter.

  5. ontariopundit

    Great headline writing :).


    Last I saw Apple's average phone sold for $800 US. Samsung's for $254 US. That was three years ago, mind you but I see no reason to expect that the relative numbers are much different today.


    Apple likely had a gross revenue that was three or four times as great as that of Samsung.


    So, quantity == quality?

    • toukale

      In reply to OntarioPundit:

      This is what is puzzling to many, even the analysts falls victim to it. No company have been able to both move those kind of sale numbers and do so at such a high price point. In order to move that many products, companies typically lower their prices, ex... Samsung, Huawei etc... Somehow Apple is able to defy that logic and no one can explain why. It is perplexing for other oem's because they can't replicate something they don't understand. I understand their dilemma and frankly I can't explain it either.

    • t-b.c

      In reply to OntarioPundit: I don't think that figure for Samsung pricing is correct. When the Galaxy S10+ came out last year it retailed for $1250. This year the Galaxy Note (selling for around a grand when not on a sale) is released. I realize that these are flagship releases and Samsung has many other phones that sell for much less, but I'm betting the average phone sale price is much higher than you portend. Samsung will sell a greater number of Galaxy phones due to advertising and name recognition that they will their cheaper phone lineup.


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