The Battle for Smartphones

September 18, 2012

The battle for smartphones

The launch of the iPhone 5 has seen the usual rush to find out information on the new devise and users scrambling to pre-register to buy one. Smartphones are becoming so important in everyday life in Ireland that more and more mobile apps that make our lives easier are being advertised in offline media. From public transport apps, to taxi apps, to apps that help you join in with your favorite TV show, the smartphone that you use allows you to orgainse your life and interact with friends and brand like never before. The chart below shows the search volumes in Ireland for the term ‘iPhone 5’ over the last year and illustrates the demand for such a high end product. From the first whispers in 2011 (which turned out to be the iPhone 4S) users have been keeping tabs and looking for information on when the devise will be launched, right up to September 2012 where we see a sudden surge in interest as, despite no official word, ‘leaks’ about the new devise began to emerge.


Smartphone penetration in Ireland is currently estimated at somewhere between 40-60%, depending which resource you reference, and is generally high when compared internationally. The US is estimated to have reached 50% penetration in March 2012 according to Nielsen. There are endless reports and stats that show how important our mobiles are in our daily lives, for example:

  • A mobile phone is the most important digital possession to a 10 – 15 year old (Amaze Generation Study)
  • Users are switching to mobile devises for research, as mobile phone and tablet searches have more than doubled since July 2011 (eDigital research)

and these reports and trends show the importance of mobile devices to consumers. So it is clear to see why there is such competition for top end mobile phones. Top smartphones sell for hundreds of euro in some cases, and their appeal is enough to sway users from one mobile operator to another. The competition at the top end of the market was exemplified by the recent court battle (one of many) between Apple and Samsung over patent rights., which Apple have won.

Battles for patents go on mostly behind the scenes, while the battle for the consumer is out in the open. With the run up to Christmas traditionally the biggest for mobile phone suppliers, and the launch of the iPhone 5 being so close to the recent Samsung offering (Galaxy SIII), it is no surprise that the two biggest mobile phone manufacturers would try to out-do each other. Below is a recent ad from Samsung highlighting the benefits of the iPhone 5 in comparison to the Galaxy SIII, run in press last week according to Mashable.

People feel so strongly about their mobile phone of choice that conversations, and arguments, can often be heard in offices about the merits of one phone over another. Samsung clearly feel that a debate over benefits and features is one that they can win. The run up to Christmas promises to be interesting.




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