Samsung Galaxy S III ousts iPhone 4S as best-selling smartphone

The smartphone market is a two-horse race, and a new report released today suggests the Galaxy S III ousted the iPhone 4S from the top spot in the third quarter.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple and Samsung aren't just locked in a legal battle, the two companies are fighting for dominance in the smartphone market too, and underdog Samsung has just scored a big win against the Cupertino juggernaut.

According to a new report released by market research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung sold 18 million Galaxy S III handsets during the third quarter, compared to only 16.2 million for Apple's iPhone 4S.

Translated into percentages, this gives the Samsung Galaxy S III a 10.7 percent market share, compared to 9.7 percent for the iPhone 4S.

During the same period, the research firm reports that Apple sold 6 million iPhone 5 handsets, giving it an immediate 3.7 percent of the smartphone market.

Taking a look at the big picture, there are several factors at play here.

First, sales of the Samsung Galaxy S III have been strong, hitting 20 million in 100 days, and then 30 million in less than six months. No matter how you cut it, these are strong sales figures. 

The Galaxy S III is also getting a lot of attention from enterprise and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) crowd. The handset has a number of enterprise-friendly features, including AuthenTec's QuickSec VPN client technology that allows users to access corporate networks when out and about.

It's easy to think that it is the consumer vote that makes or breaks a smartphone. That's not true. Enterprise users also play a significant factor, and the right set of business-centric features can shift the balance. 

See also: Five Android alternatives to the iPhone 5

The Galaxy S III also saw a broad release, available on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. This made it available to as broad an audience as possible. Availability matters, whereas Apple pitches its products to only suitable carriers. 


Another factor to consider here is the chilling effect on overall iPhone sales that chatter about the iPhone 5 had.

While Apple is smart enough not to announce a new handset until the last minute, there had been enough talk about the iPhone 5 in the media to put some people off from buying until the new handset made an appearance.

It'll be interesting to see if the Galaxy S III can maintain the top spot in the next quarter in the face of the iPhone 5, particularly with the December holiday season on the horizon.

Image credit: CNET.

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