Gen Z Shifting the Global Smartphone Dynamic Toward Apple

Gen Z users are embracing Apple mobile in a big way, accounting for 34 percent of iPhone users as compared to 10 percent of Samsung users, according to adtech data firm Attain. The imbalance is creating a peer pressure dynamic where younger users around the globe reportedly feel social stigma if they lack Apple’s must-have devices. While Samsung still has a lead in the worldwide global smartphone market, the company is feeling pressure to get hip quick. In addition to the overall iPhone design, fans cite the cameras and AirDrop photo-sharing features as major selling points.

Samsung has been promoting trendy foldable phones and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has a camera with a 100x zoom. But Apple has even managed to pick up market share in Samsung’s backyard, with four stores in South Korea and plans to soon launch its Apple Pay mobile-payment system there.

From Europe to Asia, young users are pushing Apple “toward the level of dominance in the market globally that it has enjoyed in the U.S.,” reports The Wall Street Journal, citing its market share in the premium bracket is growing, with polls showing “people in their teens and early 20s, known as Gen Z, increasingly see the iPhone as a must-have.”

Apple has increased its share of worldwide smartphone shipments for models priced at $800 and more to 76 percent last year, up from 65 percent in 2018. Samsung, meanwhile, has seen its share decline in that category, to 17 percent from 27 percent, writes WSJ, citing tech research firm Canalys. China has been a major growth driver for Apple.

Samsung is still the world’s top smartphone manufacturer by total units shipped, but even here, Apple is gaining ground: “Samsung’s market share has held roughly steady at around 21 percent for the past five years, according to Canalys, while Apple’s share climbed to 19 percent in 2022 from 15 percent in 2018,” WSJ writes, noting that high-end phones are a crucial category “as they bring in the biggest profits and showcase technological capabilities and leadership.”

Apple’s hold on Gen Z is a significant shift in market trajectory, as older Americans are split relatively evenly between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS phones, according to Financial Times, which says that as Apple continues to build brand loyalty among youngsters, we’ll see “the ramifications of these shifting tastes extended well beyond smartphones.”

FT suggests that iPhone users will become more likely to purchase things like MacBooks, AirPods and Apple Watches.

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