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Big quarter made Apple world’s largest smartphone seller, analyst says

This news story was published on January 29, 2012.
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By Jeremy C. Owens, San Jose Mercury News –

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple Inc.’s record 37 million iPhones sold in the last quarter of 2011 made it the world’s leading smartphone vendor for the quarter, barely topping rival Samsung Electronics Co., an analysis firm reported Friday.

Samsung sold 36.5 million smartphones in the final three months of 2011, Strategy Analytics reported, slightly below Apple’s total. Those sales figures gave Apple 23.9 percent of the market and Samsung 23.5 percent of the market for the quarter.

The quarter proved to be the biggest in history for smartphone sales, with total units sold reaching 155 million. For the year, nearly half a billion smartphones — 488 million — were sold worldwide, another record.

Apple couldn’t stage a comeback in Strategy’s yearly figures, as Samsung sold 97.4 million smartphones for the entire year, topping Apple’s 2011 total of 93 million.

“With global smartphone shipments nearing half a billion units in 2011, Samsung is now well positioned alongside Apple in a two-horse race at the forefront of one of the world’s largest and most valuable consumer electronics markets,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in the company’s news release.

Apple has sued Samsung in several countries, claiming that its devices, powered by Google’s Android operating system, infringe on the Cupertino, Calif., company’s patents. Samsung commercials for its Galaxy line of smartphones, meanwhile, poke fun at Apple and its fans.

Third in both the yearly and quarterly figures was 2010’s leader in sales, Nokia, Strategy reported.

Apple’s large sales figure at the end of 2011 also helped its mobile operating system, iOS, overtake Android as the dominant mobile operating system for smartphones in the U.S. in the fourth quarter, an earlier report said. Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported Wednesday that Apple’s share of the U.S. market reached 44.9 percent in the quarter, a fingernail ahead of Android’s 44.8 percent

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