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The Samsung hedge: Estimating Bada for Q2 and hence Samsung's Android shipments

The number of Bada phones shipped last quarter is not public, however some assumptions can be made that lead to plausible estimates.

First, we know that Samsung shipped about 3.2 million smartphones in Q2 2010 and that total included Bada and Android (and perhaps even some Windows Mobile).

Second, we know that there were about 19.9 million smartphones in Q2 2011.

Third, Canalys published an estimate that Bada grew by 355% y/y.

So if we knew how many Bada phones shipped in Q2 2010 we could derive the current Bada shipments and also realize how many of the nearly 20 million smartphones from Samsung were actually Android.

The clue is in an estimate from December last year that suggested that there would about 5 million Bada shipments in 2010. Coming close to the end of the year, and from Samsung directly, we can be pretty sure the figure is accurate.

Taking this 5 million and spreading it over four quarters could give us enough of an estimate. That makes 1.25 million quarterly units. If we assume some seasonality or increase toward the end of the year, a Q2 figure of 1 million might be more accurate.

Therefore, applying the 355% growth rate yields a Q2 2011 estimate of 4.5 million Bada shipments and hence about 15.4 million Android devices from Samsung last quarter.

Considering the increasing importance of Bada to Samsung, it should be clear that Android is not the only source of growth for the company and its transition of feature phones to Bada as well as Android is a key strategic driver for differentiation vis-a-vis low end entrants.

  • Hdufera

    What about windows 7 phone shipment in Q211?

  • http://twitter.com/MtnMikeBall @MtnMikeBall

    Brilliant deduction. Of all the incumbents, Samsung has done a good job keeping their mobile phone business somewhat stable.

    It will be interesting to see what Samsung does over the next year or so, considering all the IP litigation over Android, especially Samsung's flattering imitation of iOS.

    I love watching the mobile technology space right now! The disruptions are very intriguing.

  • CellBubble

    Bada should be a concern for Android adoption.

    Bada claims it is not aiming to compete with existing platforms, rather migrate existing feature phone users to the new smart phone platform. However:

    Is it possible that Samsung may evolve Bada into an Android / iOS competitor in the bear future ready for low end market to move up to more premium products as they become more affordable? Hook users in with cheap Bada devices and evolve up from there?

    Could go some way to explaining Samsung’s reluctance to release a breakdown of android / Bada stats?

    Just some ideas. Thanks Horace for the estimation.

    • http://twitter.com/PaulMaxime @PaulMaxime

      I'm an iPhone developer. Just for grins I went to Bada's dev site and looked at their API's and development model. Looked pretty horrendous to me. I think they will have a hard time getting traction with developers vs. Android or the iOS SDK. Maybe they will mature quickly, but what I saw looked clunky, inflexible and unsophisticated next to the competition.

      • http://twitter.com/davidchu @davidchu

        How quickly people forget that making and maintaining an OS is hard work and requires a lot of specialized skills and knowledge. I doubt anyone is worried about Bada.

      • CndnRschr

        This is why Apple is unlikely to descend too deeply into low end territory, hardware-wise, as it would fragment the experience and expectations. While these is clearly a degradation when comparing older models to the newer ones (iPads and iPhones) the core experience is maintained. Moreover, it looks like iOS5 is built to work with the 3GS which means it will span at least three annual generations of device. Indeed, iCloud increases the worth of the 8Gb 3GS as it partially alleviates the limited onboard memory.

      • Tom Ross

        Different speeds work Macs, so why not for iDevices. I think there's a certain baseline in specs (Retina display, Apple-designed GHz CPU, somethingsomething for RAM and GPU) that you need to have a brilliant and buttery-smooth UI and anything above is non-essential to the experience.

      • CndnRschr

        True regarding the UI experience but Macs come from a different era where PCs were differentiated by power, format, etc. and the upgrade cycle was longer than the ~2 years of mobile devices. Macs/PCs have lots of physical add-ons and upgrades whereas handhelds are added to via their apps. But you still can't buy a "cheap" Mac (compared to PCs) so Apple has maintained a solid quality base platform. I think they'll do the same with phones and tablets and it'll be a much higher base that other makers will be satisfied with.

      • Chandra Coomaraswamy

        Try buying an Ultrabook for less than a MacBook Air……Apple's advantageous pricing differential may be about to take off purely because of its growing procurement power.

      • CndnRschr

        I saw that… remarkable turnabout but I doubt very much that people on a budget would consider an Ultrabook – they'll just go for a netbook.

      • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo @Marcos_El_Malo

        Or an iPad. If they're going to do "real work", they'll find the money to get a full laptop.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Perspectives.html Steven Noyes

      I wonder if Bada did not grow more than what was indicated. Given Samsung's marginal move on profit/handset, I wonder if they really converted that many "feature" phones to Android/WP7 smartphones. To me, it makes more sense that they grew the Bada platform at the lower end substantially (>500%) and the higher end Android/WP7 more modestly (still 150%-250%).

      To me, that makes a better reason not to release the data.

      • Narayanan

        I buy this line of thinking too, taking into account the poor patterns Android usage in web, photo uploads and so on.

  • jandrewyang

    Taking into consideration profit/phone, market share, and the implications of Tim Cook's comments regarding the pre-paid market, it would seem the balance will continue to tip in AAPL's favour. The introduction of an entry level model (below the existing 3GS) into the pre-paid market, depending on relative market penetration rates, would result in a small to moderate reduction in the profit/phone while driving up the overall iOS penetration rate.

    Even with the massive YOY unit growth rates in SAM smartphone, there does not seem to be a corresponding maintenance or increase in profitability. This would suggest that an erosion in ASP stemming from price competition or any cessation in the growth rate could have disastrous implications for SAM, and likely a killing blow to MOT, SE and LG.

  • Eric Hedstrom

    Wouldn't 355% increase from one million be 4.55 million? That would make the Android total 14.5-15.5 million.

    • asymco

      Yes, you're right. I fixed the error.

  • http://twitter.com/vikingbrad @vikingbrad

    Anyone know where Horace's is getting the 'know smartphone shipments were 19.9m'

  • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Perspectives.html Steven Noyes

    You forgot WP7 that some have put between .7 and 1.2 million units for Samsung.

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  • CndnRschr

    I think Samsung likes to forget that too.

  • MOD

    Hi Horace, You might want to check the web server for Asymco. There are times when it does not come up…

  • Tom Ross

    Samsung sold 3.5 million bada phones in Q1 and AFAIR their goal for H1 2011 used to be 10 million. They probably failed to reach that which is not typical for Samsung.

  • gprovida

    This is interesting situation where SAMSUNG is moving [either as parallel insurance or stealth opportunity] towards a RIM, MS, HP, and Apple towards an OS they control, manage, and integrate. My bet is that a BADA product would have attracted a whole lot less Apple ire.

    However, if SAMSUNG's growth with ANDROID is seen as driver for their device future, then BADA is a likely underfunded and like Nokia SYMBIAN and MEEGO will suffer similar fates.

  • westech

    Google brags that there is 550,000 Android activations per day. That would be ca. 50 million per quarter. If Samsung sells 15 million a quarter, and all the rest on your list combined sell 20 million, that still leaves 15 million unaccounted for. It has been said that Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel sell lots of low end Android semi-smart phones. Is there any way that you can put some numbers on their sales?

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Perspectives.html Steven Noyes

      Or the other way to think about it is Do Activations mean the same thing as new unit sales?

      • Westech

        That too.

    • Tom Ross

      “and all the rest on your list combined sell 20 million”

      Where did you get that? HTC sold 12 million smartphones, SonyEricsson, LG and Moto each sold 4 to 5 million smartphones. Together 26 million. Take off 1 million for Windows if you like. That’s 40 million solid units for Android. The rest is not only cheap Chinese but also Japanese high-end like Sharp, Fujitsu, Panasonic and specialized devices for vertical industries.

      Nothing suspicious about this figures. What you read are conspiracy theories.

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  • Matos

    Thanks for posting this – it’s interesting to see bada shipments growing and outselling WP! Your estimate on 4.5M shipments for Q2 seems quite accurate.
    Just a small bone to pick – since the first bada device was commercially available in late May – early June of 2010, the 5M should be distributed among 3 quarters, rather than 4. Not much of a difference overall, but the 2Q11 shipments could even be a couple of millions higher, considering the 355% increase. Assuming the 5M and 355% figures are correct, of course :)
    Thanks!