Apple blows past Samsung to become top smartphone vendor for 4Q 2011

Apple grabs a 23.8% market share.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

While smartphone makers such as HTC, LG and Nokia have all been warning that sales of smartphones are in decline, here's one company reaping the benefits of soggy sales by these vendors, Apple.

According to figures released by Gartner smartphone sales for the period came to a staggering 149 million units in Q4 2011, a 47.3 percent increase compared to the year-ago quarter.

Apple had a spectacular quarter, selling some 35.5 million units and grabbing a 23.8 percent market share, a figure which now means the Cupertino giant has overtaken Samsung to become the top smartphone vendor. Gartner does however issue a few words of caution and tells us not to expect more of the same next quarter, pointing out that demand for the new iPhone 4S drove Apple to the top spot.

"The quarter saw Samsung and Apple cement their positions further at the top of the market as their brands and new products clearly stood out," Gartner said.

Big names such as LG, RIM, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola all saw a decline in market share, partly due to Apple, but also due to price pressures from ZTE and Huawei, especially in price-sensitive emerging markets.

Bottom line, all the other players are suffering mostly because people are buying iPhones, but also because of pressure from the low end.

Nokia kept the top spot as the world's largest phone maker (dumbphones and smartphones), with a 23.4 percent share of the total mobile device market (but note that this has slid down from 27.1 percent from the year-ago quarter). However, Samsung is close on Nokia's heels with 19.4 percent of the mobile market; a figure that's up from 17.5 percent during the year-ago quarter.

It was also a good quarter for Android, with the operating system accounting for 50.9 percent of all smartphone sales, up from 30.5 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.

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