Somewhere in the back of my mind, I end up assigning characters to companies. So Samsung is a very successful, business-like, businessman. Xiaomi, the showed young fella on the block who wants to conquer everything. Nokia, a once-successful middle-aged person who dreams of coming back with a bang. And Apple, the suave elite who does everything with a bit of polish. And these characters also define my expectations from these companies. I’m okay if Samsung pushes something because it knows it might sell, and I’m okay if Apple stays away from something because it thinks it is beneath it.
But often these companies are beyond our perceptions. For instance, who looks at Apple as the top watch brand in the world, or even the company with the most successful earphones in the world? That is exactly what Apple is, with the Apple Watch and AirPods selling way more than any other company does in those segments.
Even among smartphones, you would not expect the top-selling smartphones in the world to be two devices from Apple, both not budget smartphones by any stretch of your imagination. As per Counterpoint, a top research firm, the iPhone XR is the most popular smartphone in the world, cornering 3 per cent of all smartphone sales. The iPhone 11 comes next with 2.1 per cent of sales. Number 3 and 4 are both, Samsung devices — the Galaxy A50 and A10 — that cost a fraction of even the ‘budget’ iPhone XR.
So just step back and think. Apple has the most popular smartphones in the world and they are both premium devices in every sense of the term. Yes, Cupertino lowered the bar a bit with the iPhone XR and even the iPhone 11, but still, this bar is way above the range where most of the competition sells its phone. And you wonder why Apple is considered such a valuable company.
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Interestingly, there are four more iPhones in the top 10 smartphones list: the older iPhone 8, the brand new iPhone 11 Pro Max, the very old iPhone 7 and the iPhone XS Max. All these phones sell over 1 per cent globally. Now, read that list again. Find anything interesting?
Yes, in the list is also the iPhone 11 Pro Max, pretty much the most expensive phone you can buy these days — if you ignore the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The ultra-premium iPhone is also among the top-selling phones this year and that is quite an achievement, especially when the list has no flagship from any other company — no Samsung Note or S10, no Mi Max, no Huawei P series.
So despite all the pressure, it is facing in markets like China, and the uphill task it has in price-sensitive India, Apple still does well as the most successful smartphone company. You really don’t have to sell the most to be the top smartphone brand.
Now, what is your perception of the big brands?