The Difference Between “Shipped” and “Sold”

By , Oct 28, 2011

There’s a headline bouncing around the tech blogs this morning that goes something like this: “Samsung Overtakes Apple to Become Top Smartphone Manufacturer.” The news comes in wake of Samsung’s earnings report it issued to investors this morning.

The Korean handset maker didn’t offer any specific numbers, but it did tell shareholders its smartphone shipments were up 40% this quarter. Some analysts are estimating that the increase equals 28 million smartphones, which clearly beats Apple’s 17 million, right?

Wrong. There’s actually a couple of issues with that statement. The first, and most obvious, is that Samsung didn’t offer any actual numbers of units shipped, just a percentage. Apple, on the other hand, announced its numbers publicly in its recent press release.

Then there’s the problem with estimations. The “28 million smartphones” comes from research firm Strategy Analytics, not from Samsung. And they don’t provide any evidence of where they got the data, or how they arrived at that particular number.

But let’s pretend for a moment that the number is accurate, there’s still something wrong here. Notice how Samsung says “smartphone shipments are up 40%” and Apple says “17.07 units sold.” What’s the difference between shipped and sold?

Shipped means units were delivered to carriers or retail chains, it doesn’t mean that they ended up in customer’s hands. How many Samsung smartphones (not necessarily SII’s, but Fascinates and Continuums) do you think stayed on the shelf or got shipped back?

Apple, however, runs its own retail chain. So not only does it have a good bead on what’s selling well, it has direct access to numbers. Not to mention that iPhone stock is constantly constrained, meaning the handsets are selling as fast as Apple can make them.

We’re not knocking Samsung, they obviously make some popular products. But just be careful when comparing shipped to sold. Samsung could have said that it shipped a billion smartphones, but that doesn’t mean it sold one.

[The Loop]

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  • iPad Lover

    Stop being a hater!

    • gauage

      And you stop believing everything you read as a headline

      • iPad Lover

        Lmao!

    • Jon Garrett

      I knew iDB would try to spin this story in a way that’s positive for apple.

      HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED THAT SAMSUNG HAS BOTH SHIPPED AND SOLD MORE PHONES THAN APPLE !!!

      this site needs to be shut down, they tell more lies here and put out more misinformation than the CIA does.

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

        Jon,

        You constantly come here talking shit about how iDB doesn’t know anything about nothing, and it is getting a little old.

        Like Steve Jobs once said to one of his detractors, “What have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations?”

        We do not force you to read iDB, and because this site clearly doesn’t meet your standards, I suggest you find another blog to visit and troll on a daily basis, since that’s what you seem best capable to do.

        Goodbye and good luck in your new trolling adventures.

        Sincerely,

        The Internet

      • http://www.blu3sn0w.com mark

        Damn Seb, you just owned him

      • Burge

        All said that man…

      • javierE186

        Fucking finally someone told Jon Garrett off, I can handle trolls but holy fuck is he annoying, isn’t there a way you can ban him because is it ridiculous.

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

        Yeah, we shouldn’t see his face in the comments again. But he might go through, so if you see him again, just email me, and we’ll hit that “spam” button again ;)

      • kokhean

        You don’t belong here. You are clearly an Android fan and an iOS hater. I can easily pick out a few hate comments from this blog. Let’s see them, shall we?

        74% of Verizon Smartphone Users Say They’re Waiting on the iPhone 5
        Jon Garrett says: August 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm
        yet another bull sh!t article by iDB. so 216 users represent 74% of Verizon’s smartphone customers? only a fool would believe that 42% of Android users are going to switch to the iPhone. Android’s rate of growth is phenomenal, Android is on pace to exceed 100 million subscribers a day !! by this fall/winter in addition, Android tablets have 33% of the tablet market and the market place is set to surpass the app store in number of apps by end of summer. you don’t get that kind of success with 42% of their customer base wanting a damn iPhone.I for one, cannot wait til the contracts are finished on mine and my wife’s i4′s because we so desperately want Android phones and I love my Galaxy Tab 10.1

        Phone Market Share Grows 141.8 Percent Each Year
        Jon Garrett says: July 31, 2011 at 7:08 am
        Why didn’t you guys report on this story: Samsung Sells more phones than Apple.

        A Summary of All the Crazy iPhone 5 Rumors [Infographic]
        Jon Garrett says: August 8, 2011 at 9:22 am
        The only rumor that will be true about the next iPhone is that it will still lack features, it will be about equal to current models of Android phones but will be D.O.A against the next Galaxy S.

        Survey Finds Improved Apple Brand Reputation Since Steve Jobs Resigned
        Jon Garrett says: September 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm
        Yawn. meanwhile at IFA Germany Samsung readies stunning new Galaxy Tab 7.7, a 5.3 inch note pad with stylus the Galaxy Tab 8.9 with LTE, 3 new and improved Galaxy S II phones for AT&T, Sprint and T-mobile AND 3 entirely new devices with the Wave phones !!! If that wasn’t enough, Toshiba made a sexy new tablet that’s even lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Tab 10.1 !! AND its still has USB, HDMI and SD !! but wait, there’s more !! Sony also shows of its new 10.1 Android tablet.Android phones and tables will launch this Fall with Quad core processors and true 720p displays !! while you guys sit here and read crap articles day in and day out.

        No OLED Devices From Apple For Another “Three to Four Years”
        Jon Garrett says: August 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm
        hmm, No OLED No LTE No USB No HDMI No SD No Flash support No 1080p No 3D Everything iDont, Droid does.

        Apple Reveals Plans to Incorporate Projectors in Future iDevices
        Jon Garrett says: August 12, 2011 at 10:37 am
        actually it is about who makes it first because god knows that anytime a company releases a product, apple fan boys will claim that they’re copying the idea from apple.
        Jon Garrett says: August 12, 2011 at 10:39 am
        Saw this at Google IO 2011 Ice Cream Sandwich devices could have this feature by this time next year. I just hope they patent it because we all know that apple will and claim that its their IP.

        Court Lifts Ban on Samsung Galaxy Tab Sales in Europe Due to Falsified Evidence in Apple’s Case
        denial, denial. Why use an image of a prototype when the prototype is NOT whats on sale? Apple got caught lying to the courts and the court was forced to correct its actions against Samsung. Expect Apple to have to pay damages to Samsung and possibly cover Sammy’s legal fees. Armed with 17,000 Motorola Patents with 7,500 more pending; we should see the Empire (Google Android) strike back pretty soon.

        Why are you trolling here? You cannot accept the fact that Android and iOS have both their pros and cons. iOS was released on June 29, 2007, while Android was released on 20 September 2008. Isn’t it suspicious that Android contains many interfaces and features similar to the ones in iOS? Face it. Android copied many iOS features, and added a little more features. Not to forget security risks. And the smoothness of a UI? For the iPhone 2G, only a mere 128MB of ram was used. The Android phone requires a dual core chip and 1GB of ram just to make the UI smooth. Trust me, there are a lot of flaws in an Android device.

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

        I am IMPRESSED by the research you did on Jon’s previous comments, especially considering I deleted dozens of them today. You are my hero of the day :)

      • http://hateidb.com tterraG noJ

        U r bloking me from saying the true… This blog is a pice of shit… All that u do is repost the news that other already have… Get profesional

      • http://hateidb.com tterraG noJ

        U r bloking me from saying the true… This blog is a pice of shit… All that u do is repost the news that other already have…

  • Keith

    Ouch! Lol

  • Larry CT

    Man lie women lie numbers don’t …Go iPhone

  • Burge

    This is what company’s do all the time to get the figures that they want..just look at any advert on the TV , right at the end when it says something like 80 percent , there is a line underneath that’s says how many people were surveyed and it’s never 100 people it’s always more, like 173…that 173 gets them there figure that they want..and another company selling a similar product will ask a different number of people to get there figure ..it’s all a con to look good…

    • numbnuts

      completely agree, i’d figured that ages ago too, those stats at the bottom of ads, usually cosmetic, dietry or dental ones, are a crock of misleading shit.

  • http://iphonetheatre.blogspot.com v

    Statistics and numbers can be manipulated to, in fact, lie. Humans need communication skills and word on the street is people like brands, makes them feel like they belong to the right tribe. They also like good quality. Most people agree the iPhone is sexy, and I’d say the best polished interface. But many many people have Samsung stuff, I found it cludgy, but the Galaxy had a great screen and camera, and in Japan that thing is everywhere, so don’t be offended if there’s another cult just like yours :P

  • JJ

    I could crap in a box and SHIP 20 million boxes. That doesn’t mean I’ll SELL a single one of them.

    • goofygreek

      if you did, i would love to meet the idiot who buys one, and then laugh at them.

      • http://www.wrongnumbertexts.com Soto

        So you’ll be laughing at yourself pretty much.

    • Jon Garrett

      shipped does mean sold you @sshole. do you think these phones were just given to retailers? NO, they paid for them. just like apple and all the iPhones they have shipped to Best Buy and the wireless carriers that sell them.

      • @max_kas

        They only count consumer purchases as sold… Why are u still pushing that because Best Buy and other Retail stores have that counts as a purchase. Apple counts consumer purchases as how many are sold as do the majority of the other tech companies do. Why show off how many you can sell to a retail chain? (Unless your Samsung and like to mislead numbers)

      • http://abailey0886@yahoo.com James

        What about all the phones shiped back for a refund from best buy is that still sold @sshole

      • kokhean

        And that doesn’t mean that customers get the phones for free! Like you said, they PAID for the devices, but they did not sell them to the public? If there was a product to be launched, and the product was shipped to all shops, it doesn’t mean that all the products are already sold!

    • Ken

      I’ll take two!!

  • http://idownloadblog.com Guillermo

    FUCK SAMSUNG!

    • Carmax

      FUCK YOU TOO!

  • Paul

    I used to work for Samsung in a major manufacturing facility and to say they ‘massage’ the figures is an understatement !

  • Paris

    Ship and sell aside let not forget that and android smartphone is in a range of 200$ to 600$ even if Samsung made more smartphone sales that apple it would mean squat is you opiate the actual $ this contributes to

  • Jon Garrett

    and what about the phones apple shipped? all the ones sitting on shelves at best buy and all the wireless carriers that stock them? these phones were not given to best buy and others, they were paid for so shipped DOES mean sold.

    besides all this., this is what make me really hate apple. how websites like this and fan boys take all this sh1t personal. like they have a vested interest in how many phones apple sells or how much money they have in the bank etc etc.

    all this site ever does is talk about stupid sh1t like “wedding filmed with iphone” “man saves drowning dog with iphone” “ancient mummies found with iphone’s in their tombs”

    meanwhile on any given Android site they talk excitedly about the newest rounds of smartphones about to launch, the newest tablets, updates and changes to Android OS etc etc.

    it seems that on every apple site, the people who run them and the fans who visit them seem to need to validate their own lackluster lives by comparing two companies to each other. how very miserable and uninteresting these peoples lives must be if they have to trash talk and flame over electronic devices.

    I had an iPhone 4 up until a week ago, then I upgraded…..to the Samsung Galaxy S2. so far, there is NOTHING, NOTHING the iPhone 4/4s can do that my GS2 cannot. and many things my S2 does that my i4 never could……even when jailbroken.

    anyway, thats my rant for the day. lol.

    • Chris

      “meanwhile on any given Android site they talk excitedly about the newest rounds of smartphones about to launch, the newest tablets, updates and changes to Android OS etc etc.”

      I’d like to see what Android fanboy sites you read that are not full of circle jerking fanboys. It certainly isn’t any of the known ones.

    • Mike Erickson

      Jon how about you do as your mom told you long ago. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you don’t like the content why visit site?

    • Justin

      Cool! Mummies had iPhones!

      I’m not really concerned with how company’s are compared, I just buy and use the stuff I like. I like iPhone’s, Chevys, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. (damn that stuff is good!) I don’t talk crap on motorolas, fords, or Cheerios. I just enjoy the things I like and be happy.

      There are so many blogs, websites, etc. I don’t have time to view and compare them all, so I just look around and find one I like. (and here I am)

      If someone doesn’t like a blog, it’s relatively cheap to start a site/hosting/blog and talk about the stuff they like and are interested in. Other people that like the same stuff will find it and start following it too.

      So basically, just focus on the things in life that make you happy, and don’t worry about the stuff you have no interest in. If we all do that, we will achieve world peace!

    • Willy K

      “how very miserable and uninteresting these peoples lives must be if they have to trash talk and flame over electronic devices.”

      You realize that is exactly what you are doing right?

    • Jason Masters

      So glad he’s gone he was such a pain In the ass great job idb you guys are the best blog it stays interesting every day !!
      Goodbye Jon garret or Steve jobs OCD or binary stalker or to all the trolls out there you will not be missed!!

  • Cameron MacGregor

    Who gives One Flying F*** about Samsung. Apple’ products are more exclusive than Samsung. Who here goes to a meeting and says “Ohh I need to get my laptop out, it’s a Samsung”. Instantly people thing Boring!

    BUT

    If someone goes to the same meeting and says “Hold on, il just grab my Mac” people will think, “Hmmm snazzy”. Samsung need to stop trying to copy Apple. Now I am no apple fan boy but I am a loyal customer. The only apple product I never had was the iPhone 2G of 2007. I don’t see why Android users are knocking us. Now I respect the OS as it has some innovative features, but the iPhone is years ahead. Now Jon if you wish to come here and try to Single handedly try to bully iOS users I think ur barking up the wrong blog. You have ur rights to your oppinions but calling someone an A-hole for no reason is uncalled for.

    Come On?

    • http://deleted Carmax

      The iPhone and Android are at each other’s level.
      iPhone did not have wallpaper until iOS 4.0.

      • Tom

        whoa don’t go there, wallpaper is so drastic don’t even talk about that!!!!! fuck me, its just wallpaper, i reckon android os is shit and the other day i went to the shop and played around with the galaxy s2, its os is so confusing and laggy. iOS is so good it deserves the capitals i gave it. GO APPLE!!!!!!

  • GrEdDySRT

    Well said fuck android GO APPLE!!!!

    • http://deleted Carmax

      Fuck you!

      • Chris

        Fuck you to.

  • Jon is a hater

    Jon just chill man. There are tons of people switching from other brand of phone to iPhone but very few switch from an iPhone to other brands. Put down the pipe lil Jon.

  • JonBlowsSamsung

    Jon get off this blog!

  • Ron

    why do ppl come on a site that they know is pro apple and get mad when there pro apple really? if u don’t like the pro apple talk then go to http://www.engadget.com or gizmodo.com or something why come on this one u sound like a hater #JustSayin

    hey stupid u do know that shipped and sold is has 2 diff meaning, just because something was shipped to a store don’t mean nothing yes the store paid to have it in stock that don’t mean ppl came in to the store to buy the item items there for the item was not sold are u really sitting there and saying shipped and sold are the same when they sit in tmobile/att/verzion warehouse why don’t Samsung post there activation new and upgrade sales

  • http://deleted Carmax

    Just because a device is made from Apple, it does not mean it’s the best out there. I’m pretty sure you remember the Apple TV.

    • Tom

      are u trying to say that every android piece of shit is perfect?

  • Ron

    its funny how this went from if there is a difference between shipped and sold to what this can or cant do

    fact of the matter Samsung might have SHIPPED more handsets then apple but they have not sold/activated more phones then apple hence Samsung comping DOWN year over year in profit and have put our more phones then apple apple on the other hand shipped less iphones to appl/bestbuy/att/verzion but have sold/activated more handsets then samsung and have comped UP year over year in iphone sales

    so again back to the topic on hand shipped is totally diff from sold cuz companies don’t count what was shipped to carriers, even if the carriers had to pay them for the handset its whats was sold out of the shipment of items

    example

    i shipped 1000 Samsung phones to carriers and apple shipped 600 and then 3 months later Samsung sells 400 of the 1000 shipped phones and apple sell 500 of the shipped 600

    Samsung quarter shipped is higher but activated 400
    apple quarter shipped is lower but activated 500

    apple still sold more vs Samsung shipped more

  • Hektor

    Jon,
    You should take some Business classes. Samsung does not have retail stores to sell their products directly to customers, they rely on the business to business approach to sell their products. What usually happens is that the stores that carry Samsung product order units based on projections that usually are made up numbers -based on customer demand. To protect the stores from under selling, they order many more units asked on consignment. If the customers don’t buy the goods units are then shipped back to the manufacturer. If you don’t like Idb don’t read and leave us in peace!

  • iContol

    Who gives a shit about Samsung any way they ship over 10 phones if not more and still get outsold by 3 phones that apple puts out the galaxy sII alone probably still gets outsold by the 2 1/2 year old 3GS and runs the newest iOS lets see how long it takes them to get that cockmeat

  • iControl

    Sandwich

    Lol
    @pissondrois

  • Simche

    Yes it’s true that Apple doesn’t have all stuff ‘up to date’ but it is just so much more, I mean come on, even my grandma uses an iPhone like a pro, and without guidance… Their idevices are designed and adapted for every use of everybody, and I mean just like I said, everybody can use it :)
    But android is much more not for ‘everyone’ but instead for some group of people, like developers or buisnessmen or something… But I do know that if people grab an MacBook pro or something from their bag, all people are saying kinda ‘hmm, an real apple computer wow’, I mean who would say wow to a samsung pc? It’s kinda of like those people who don’t even bother to stay outside retailer days before their ‘samsung product’ comes in… No! People are smart, they rather wait for an iPhone or something other new from apple, and I really do understand why, and if we in Sweden had real retail store from apple, I would definitely wait outside too and be just as excited :)
    Apple is worth their money for their products, and if u don’t believe me, then just google it, and you’ll see that apple dominates because of their extraordinary products :)

  • http://gstechspot.blogspot.com GustavoSavant

    Bastien u’r the best…. LMAO…. Kkk

  • http://gstechspot.blogspot.com GustavoSavant

    Bastien ur the best…. Rsrs

  • http://www.youtube.com/GXGOW GXGOW

    Knock knock knocking on Samsung’s door, hey hey heyhey yeah

  • http://www.youtube.com/GXGOW GXGOW

    Knock knock knocking on Samsung’s door hey hey heyhey yeah

    (btw there’s something weird with the publish button)

  • http://www.youtube.com/GXGOW GXGOW

    Knock knock knocking on Samsung’s door hey hey heyhey yeah

    CAN YOU PUBLISH IT NOW?

  • http://www.youtube.com/GXGOW GXGOW

    Knock knock knocking on Samsung’s door hey hey heyhey yeah

    CAN YOU PUBLISH IT NOW

  • http://www.youtube.com/GXGOW GXGOW

    Knock knock knocking on Samsung’s door hey hey heyhey yeah

    argh publish now

  • Aineel

    I’ve got a question, if Samsung shipped those phones to the carriers, does it mean the carriers bought the phone from them? That’s my understanding. Sorry for my ignorance.

    Sent from my iPhone 3gs

  • Aineel

    I’ve got a question, if Samsung shipped those phones to the carriers, does it mean the carriers bought the phone from them? That’s my understanding. Sorry for my ignorance.

    • moob

      where i worked Apple stock was not ordered on a Sale or Return basis, stock was acquired based on a forecasted sales. if sales exceeded stock then more would be asked for, its a balancing game not to carry too much old stock when a new device is released, but if you have then thats when the enticing deals are offered – to offload excessive stock. :)

  • http://www.iphonejailbreakfaq.com Ricky

    Why all the people are fighting about Android and Apple? Admit it Android is a stolen OS, and Samsung is best at copying Apple’s product.

    I wish someone start debating Windows Phone as well (wait….they offer outdated hardware…sigh)..

    Long live Apple

  • aineel

    is there a problem with posting comments?

  • Justin

    Posting tip #37:
    If you get a message saying your post did not publish, just refresh the page. 9 times out of 10, it really did post.
    Posting tip #38:
    If you get publish fail message and have a long post, copy it before you refresh just in case it didn’t really post.

    • Justin

      The above post received the ‘publication failed’ notice.
      But instead of clicking the post button again, a quick refresh brought the post to life!

      • aineel

        THANKS:)

  • Steve

    I want an android phone befor I got my iPhone but am so pleased I with my iPhone. I love it. I now have a MacBook pro too. I love apples attention to detail. I’ve used a PC for years and my mac less than a year and I have to say the mac is more natural to use. But I still use my PC, both devices have good and bad qualitys.

    I think iOS and and android is the same, both have different good points. I do believe some android features are similar (copied) to iOS.

    Don’t you have a jailbroken iPhone Seb? How do you think Steve Jobs would have felt about Jailbroken idevices? That’s not how apple design the devices to be used. Do android devices need jail breaking? No, because android is open source. So if you wanted a rooted device maybe an android device would be better suited.

    I also believe this blog is biased. But it’s an idevice blog right? Sure it’s gonna be biased. Maybe you should adopt a credit where i’st due attitude. Apple do sometimes get it wrong.

    Another good point made earlier in the posts was the fact that your blog is slow with the latest news. I always get apple news from about 5 other sources on twitter befor I get it from you. It sometimes seems you maybe just follow them and use them as your sources. That said your blog does report some great things, tips and tricks, I enjoy reading it.

    I know I’ll be investing in more apple hardware in the future.

  • Buck

    iDB is a good blog for news and update but their editorials are skewed and full on fanboyism it’s comes off so unprofessional. We understand you like apple but half your articles are full of spin and bs. then you censor people when they have a good argument against you. I own iPhone and I like it but that doesn’t mean I will swear by apple and everything they do. I’ll never understand peoples obsession and allegiance to a brand.

    • Oreoz

      +1

      • moob

        -2

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Cody

      We love good debates in our comment threads, that’s why we try to write thought provoking articles.
      We don’t sensor anyone for having valid points, just when they start making disrespectful remarks about our site or others.
      And believe it or not, there’s no spin here. Manufacturers report “shipped” numbers all the time, instead of reporting actual sell-through numbers. We were just trying to show people the difference.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Rob123

    I Like To Live on Both Sides Of Technology, Little Bit Of iOS, (iP4/iPT,iPN,iPad) A Little bit of Android (Xperia/Arc/Galaxy S2), Lil Bit Of Mac And Windows e.t.c But From My Experiences Im Looking For Quality, Speed, Manageability, A Small Chunk of Customisation And A Touch Of Finesse, And The iOS Platform Delivers Tenfold Above The Android Platform, It’s Unfinished And Sadly Underdeveloped. +1 To Apple

  • Mecag Oenti

    Wow the person who wrote this need more info about how this work. First if a phone was shipped to a carrir it’s count as a sold item. Why? Because Samsung sell the phone to the carrier that is why it has the logo on the phone and the OS with the name or logo of the carrier. Carriers don’t sell the phones for Samsung they sell the phone to get more contracts and customers. Also carriers lose money on the contracted phones because they pay the phone at regular price and get profit on the contract. So the only way the shipped phones doesn’t count as a sold phone is if it was for warranty purpose and it depends on the Samsung contract and Carrier contract of who is responisble for the warranty and what it covers. So if a phone where shipped to replace a none working phone under warranty it doesn’t count as a sold phone.

    So you can say now that you learn something about how it works.

  • AndroidLove

    Apple = only the number of iPhones in customer’s hands (on contract, or off contract)
    Samsung = number of phones still sitting on carrier shelves, and in hands of customers

    Wee bit of a difference here, as Apple does not count the stock they have sitting in their Apple stores, or what carriers have that are not activated. Samsung on the other hand counts every item they send out of the factory, regardless if it was destined for a customer, or a landfill.

    I am not saying this is anything against Android, but it is a sales tactic Samgung uses time and time again. Apple gets my +1 for honesty.

  • Aaron

    I find it funny how Jon posts negative stuff about Apple in a Apple blog. I bet he has an Samsung Device and thinks its all that fantastic… I’m terribly sorry that your precious company has copied apple and left you out of the loop. (yes both company probably copied one another but that’s how technology advances. Look who set the standards for smartphones?)