Samsung plans big changes to jump back ahead of Apple

Can a change in focus help the Galaxy S6 topple the iPhone?

Samsung's 2014 financial results make for very dry reading, but there are some interesting details hidden amongst the jargon, acronyms and numbers.

Yet perhaps the most interesting detail is one that Samsung didn't announce, leaving it to Strategy Analytics to fill in the gaps. According to the research firm, Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2014. That's a very big number, but what makes it interesting is that Apple shipped the same number of handsets.

In other words, during the three month period from October to December, Samsung and Apple were tied as the world's largest smartphone makers. That's great news for Apple, but not such good news for Samsung, which last year had a substantial lead on its Cupertino competitor.

And while the new iPhone designs helped Apple boost its performance in 2014, that wasn't the only factor, as Samsung's shipments were down on 2013.

Changes ahead

So it's clear that Samsung needs to make some big changes if it wants to jump back ahead of Apple and it looks like plans are already in motion, as one of those interesting details from Samsung's financial report is that it will use "new materials" and "innovative design" for its 2015 handsets.

This may not be such a surprise, given that Samsung has already started experimenting with metal on the Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy A Series, but this all but confirms that premium materials will be a big focus for Samsung going forwards.

The mention of innovative designs is interesting too, given that a metal build is hardly innovative any more, so could this point to even bigger changes for the Samsung Galaxy S6? Perhaps in line with the total redesign that its Project Zero codename hints at?

Frankly, it needs one. Otherwise Samsung could soon be just the second biggest smartphone maker in the world.