Apple's iPhone 5 overtakes Samsung as best-selling smartphone in Q4 2012

Apple took Samsung to task in Q4 through its iPhone 5 sales in Q4 2012, according to Strategy Analytics.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Credit: James Martin/CNET News

The iPhone 5 has tipped the scales in Apple's favor by beating Samsung's Galaxy S3 to become the world's best-selling smartphone model for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2012.

According to data from market research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, the shift in smartphone popularity is related to the "rich touchscreen, extensive distribution and generous operator subsidies" offered by Apple's latest shiny offering.

The firm says that Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone was shipped to the tune of approximately 27.4 million units worldwide in Q4 2012, rising from 6 million in the third quarter. Overall, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S accounted for one in five smartphone shipments, and the iPhone 5 alone managed to secure 13 percent of the market.

In comparison, Samsung's Galaxy S III shipment rate fell from 18 million units to 15.4 million in the same time frame, securing an estimated 7 percent marketshare in the fourth quarter.

Overall global shipments of smartphones, in line with the expanding market for mobile technology, are estimated to have risen from 172.8 million units in Q3 2012 to 217 million units in the fourth quarter. 

apple iphone 5 overtakes samsung galaxy s3 research q4 2012 best selling smartphone

The iPhone 5's performance is described as "impressive" by the research firm, especially given Apple's "premium pricing." In addition, Strategy Analytics says that Samsung's Galaxy S III popularity appears to have reached its peak, although it remains popular with users across the U.S., Asia and Europe. Strategy Analytics believes that Samsung will be keen to introduce the rumored Galaxy S4 upgrade sooner rather than later to fight back against Apple's successful bid to secure additional marketshare.

There is a continual battle between the major players within the smartphone and tablet industry to entice additional customers to their brand and chosen operating system -- whether iOS, Android or Windows-based -- and due to this and the rapid product lifecycle, market share is constantly shifting. 

However, we do have to consider that these types of comparisons aren't necessarily fair, although they may give us a rough idea of current market trends. In Strategy Analytic's report, there is an absence of figures relating to Samsung's other devices, and the different launch dates of both Apple and Samsung products also can make direct comparisons unfair. The iPhone 5 was poised for holiday sales, whereas Samsung's Galaxy S III launched earlier in May 2012. 

In November, the Samsung Galaxy S III managed to oust the iPhone 4S as the world's best-selling smartphone, selling 18 million handsets in comparison to only 16.2 million Apple iPhone 4S shipments, giving Samsung a 10.7 marketshare, whereas Apple secured 9.7 percent. 

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