MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics continued their game of tag at the top of the smartphone shipment table, with Apple taking back the top spot for smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter, while Samsung became the world’s largest smartphone brand for the year of 2011.
According to IHS iSuppli, Apple shipped 37 million smartphones worldwide in Q4, up 117 percent from 17 million in the second quarter, the strongest sequential quarterly growth among the Top 5 smartphone brands.
Samsung managed to ship 36 million smartphones in the last quarter, but sold 95 million smartphones in the full year, just ahead of Apple’s 93 million units. In 2010, Apple sold 47 million iPhones, while Samsung sold just 25 million, meaning the Korean giant’s sales were up an astounding 278 percent in 2011.
Both Apple and Samsung leapfrogged Nokia, which had previously held the number one spot.
“Apple’s introduction of the 4S in the fourth quarter unleashed tremendous pent-up demand for the iPhone as consumers awaited the arrival of the latest model,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at HIS, explaining Apple’s quarterly surge. Releasing the new model just in time for the holiday season also helped push Apple past its rival.
Meanwhile, Samsung continues to thrive due to its broad line of smartphone products at varying price points. Competing Android licensees like Sony Ericsson and Motorola did not do nearly as well.
“The relatively small growth of Sony Ericsson and Motorola may indicate that the Android smartphone market is becoming too crowded as the various licensees compete for limited consumer mindshare and shelf space,” Lam said.
Whether Apple will be able to keep hold of its spot at the top of the table, however, remains to be seen, with some analysts believing the coming quarters won’t look quite as strong for the company, especially now that the initial iPhone 4S surge is over.