Apple regains smartphone lead from Samsung

More and more, the maket is looking like a two-horse race.

Almost 25% of the 149 million smartphones shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2011 were iPhones, according to market research company Juniper.

The quarter saw Apple regain the smartphone marketshare lead from Samsung (on 21.7%), the top-seller in the Google Android camp.

Apple recently reported sales of 37 million iPhones in its December quarter – nearly double its previous record.

Old models bolster share
The boom was fuelled by the new iPhone 4S.

However, Juniper notes that Samsung’s strong rise -  the Korean giant has increased its market share four-fold since the fourth quarter of 2010 – is “forcing Apple to continue offering older models to keep ahead.”

Although the 4S led the way, continued sales of the older iPhone 4 and 3GS at “rock bottom prices” bolstered Apple’s market share.

Two-horse race
Both Apple (doubling profit to $US13 billion) and Samsung (earnings up 17% to $US3.3 billion) have recently reported strong quarterly results.

Apple said its iPhone and iPad now account for 73% of its revenue.

Samsung said its handset sales were up 30% on the back of strong demand for its “Galaxy” series of Android smartphones. (Although the picture is more shaded for the Korean giant, which produces a broad array of consumer electronics devices and components - including the memory chips used in the iPhone).

Juniper noted that Apple and Samsung - embroiled in a series of patent suits - have jockeyed for the number one position for the past three quarters. The market seems more and more like a two-horse race.

Best of the rest
Taiwan-based HTC was the only other member of the top five to see significant year-on-year growth. Juniper estimated that the company shipped 12.1 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2011 for just over 8% of the global market.

Other phone makers, including Nokia,  Sony and BlackBerry maker RIM have struggled.

Nokia’s smartphone shipments were down 31% year-on-year by Juniper’s count, although the company is poised for a potential comeback with its “Lumia” series of Windows Phone-based handsets.

The Finnish company recently said it has now shipped more than 1 million Lumias.

The Lumia series has yet to see New Zealand release. Australian release is slated for March.

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