The Galaxy S4 Is Samsung’s Fastest Shipping Smartphone Ever
Samsung Electronics co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun said at an industry forum in Seoul this week that S4 shipments will top 10 million in a few days. This, less than a month after the device’s debut in some 60 countries.
“We are confident that we will pass more than 10 million sales of the S4 next week,” Shin said, according to the Korea Times. “It is selling much faster than the previous model S3.”
Great news for Samsung, but news that comes with an important caveat: The company here isn’t talking about retail sales to consumers, but sales to carriers. Reached for comment, Samsung confirmed to AllThingsD that Shin was indeed referring to shipments into the channel when he offered that 10 million unit number.
Ten million handsets shipped into the channel in such a short time is still a hell of a milestone. But there’s a big difference between that and consumer sales of 10 million. The S4 may well be selling much faster than its predecessor, but not so much faster that there will be 10 million units in consumer hands next week. Some will still be sitting on carrier shelves awaiting purchase.
It’s worth noting that Samsung is not alone in reporting smartphone “sales” this way. Many companies do — including Apple. When the company posts quarterly earnings, it reports iPhone “sell in” numbers — numbers that include products it has shipped to retail partners like AT&T, Best Buy and Walmart, but not necessarily sold to end consumers. From Apple’s latest earnings statement:
The Company recognizes revenue when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, delivery has occurred, the sales price is fixed or determinable, and collection is probable. Product is considered delivered to the customer once it has been shipped and title and risk of loss have been transferred. For most of the Company’s product sales, these criteria are met at the time the product is shipped. For online sales to individuals, for some sales to education customers in the U.S., and for certain other sales, the Company defers revenue until the customer receives the product because the Company retains a portion of the risk of loss on these sales during transit.
Now, Apple has some 400 retail stores worldwide, and they — along with the company’s Web sites — sell a lot of iPhones directly into the hands of consumers. But they didn’t do that for every one of the 37.4 million the company sold in its recent quarter. Indeed, during Apple’s last earnings call the company said it had 11.6 million iPhones in channel inventory during the period.
Those were devices “shipped” to retail partners. But for Apple’s purposes, they were “sold.” Same story for Samsung.