Global Smartphones: Apple Tops In Q4, Samsung In '11

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 Boston - Apple regained its status as the world's largest smartphone vendor by unit shipments in the fourth quarter, selling 37 million units worldwide in a smartphone market whose fourth-quarter shipments grew 53.9 percent to a record 155 million units, Strategy Analytics research found.

Apple reclaimed the top title, though just barely, from Samsung because of a 128 percent surge in fourth-quarter Apple shipments compared with the year-ago quarter, the research and consulting company said.  Apple benefited from expanded iPhone-family distribution across numerous countries and dozens of operators and an expanded selection of price points, the company said.

Apple's fourth-quarter share hit 23.9 percent compared with Samsung's 23.5 percent. (see table)

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For the full year, however, Samsung was the market leader for the first time, with 19.9 percent global share compared with Apple's 19 percent, Strategy Analytics said.  "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," claimed Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director.

Overall smartphone shipments soared 53.9 percent to 155 million in the quarter and by 63 percent to 488.5 million for the year, though the growth rates were down from the respective year-ago periods' 86.8 percent and 71.4 percent.

Overall cellphone shipments, (see table at bottom) including smartphones, also rose in the quarter and year, and Nokia maintained its global dominance in market share in both periods, through its lead slipped in both periods as Samsung solidified its number-two position.

Overall cellphone shipments rose 11.2 percent in the quarter to 445 million and 14.1 percent for the year to 1,551.4 million. The growth rates were down slightly from the respective year-ago periods' 16.2 percent and 16.3 percent.

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