Apple and Samsung duked it out all last year for title as World’s Largest Smartphone Vendor. Throughout the early stages of 2011, the two companies largely remained neck and neck, but as the year went on, the Cupertino-based company began to lose its footing with a longer than normal delay between iPhone releases. So when Q3 came to a close, the Korean-based company had an incredibly commanding lead. That was then. If new Strategy Analytics estimates are to be believed, Apple has reclaimed the world’s largest smartphone vendor crown.
According to the research firm, Apple squeezed by Samsung by the narrowest of margins as measured by unit shipments. All tallied up, Apple’s recently announced figure of 37 million iPhones barely edged out Samsung’s Q4 smartphone shipments of 36.5 million units.
While Apple took the top spot in smartphones on a quarterly basis, Samsung became the market leader in annual terms for the first time with 20 percent global share during 2011, said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. 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.
Overall, though, the data collected suggests Samsung still sold more handsets throughout the whole of 2011, almost hitting the 100 million mark. Apple, on the other hand, sold 93 million by year’s end.
One thing of note: Samsung no longer reports its mobile phone sales for competitive reasons, so Strategy Analytics’ data is purely an estimate. In any case, both Apple and Samsung had incredible fourth quarters, maintaining their status as top dogs in the smartphone market. The race promises to get even tighter in 2012 with Apple’s reported iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.