Samsung announced its first profit drop in 2 years. The company's Q4 2013 net profit came in at 7.24 trillion won (US$6.7 billion), roughly one trillion won less than the previous quarter, while revenue was u slightly to a record 59.28 trillion won (US$54.87 billion).
The profit came in well below analyst's expectations. A stronger South Korean Won was partly to blame and a display of gratitude and generosity towards the company's employees also had a major impact on profit. In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Chairman Lee Kun Hee unveiling a new vision for the company, which drove Samsung to new heights, the company gave a 800 billon won (US$741 million) bonus to its employees.
Taking a look at Samsung's smartphone sales we see that shipments rose 4 percent in the fourth quarter, with 91 million devices shipped. One important caveat though is that sales of Samsung's flagship phone have dropped dramatically. Last quarter the electronics giant shipped 9 million units of the Galaxy S4, whereas it sold 15.2 million Galaxy S3 devices in Q4 2012.
The Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 followed very different sales arcs, despite similar announcement dates. The Galaxy S4 was very fast out the gate and sold an average of 20 million units per quarter in Q2 and Q3. But this quarter sales fell roughly in half, dropping well below the Galaxy S3 monthly sales rate at that point in the device's lifecycle. Still the Galaxy S4 did ship more units during its launch year. By the end of 2012 Samsung had sold roughly 39.9 million Galaxy S3s, by the end of 2013, Samsung had sold roughly 49.0 million Galaxy S4s.
Part of this difference in sales pace is likely due to Samsung rolling out devices faster in top sales regions like the U.S. and Europe, which used to trail the South Korean launch by healthy margins. Overall, if there's one conclusion that can be drawn, it's that the Galaxy S4 has been a steady seller for Samsung, if a bit disappointing in growth and longevity.