iPhone 5 pushes Apple to No. 2 spot among U.S. phone makers

Apple continues to play second fiddle to Samsung but just surpassed LG on the list of top U.S. mobile phone makers, says ComScore.

The iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5. Apple

The new iPhone has given Apple a slight lead over LG in U.S. mobile market share, according to new data from ComScore.

For the three months ending in October, Apple stole second place from LG by grabbing a 17.8 percent share of the entire U.S. cell phone market, up from 16.3 percent in the prior three months. LG trailed with 17.6 percent, a drop from 18.5 percent.

Released at the end of September, the iPhone 5 undoubtedly gave Apple the boost it needed to rise up the mobile phone charts. Over the past year, Apple had been in third place behind LG , and at times in fourth place behind Motorola , among the top five U.S. phone vendors.

For the latest period, Samsung still held the lead with a 27.3 percent slice of the market. Only Samsung and Apple saw gains in market share, while LG, Motorola, and HTC all were hit by small declines.

ComScore

To compile the data, ComScore surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers as part of its MobiLens service.

The results are certainly a promising sign for Apple, which has been battling its Android rivals and struggling to amp up supplies of the new iPhone.

Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones during the calendar third quarter , surpassing Wall Street forecasts of 25 million and rising more than 58 percent from the year-ago quarter. However, that number only barely exceeded results from the prior quarter.

iPhone 5 sales have been hampered by the usual supply and demand problems.

A representative with iPhone supplier Hon Hai, aka Foxconn, told the Wall Street Journal in October that the new phone was "the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled ." The representative said factory employees were still learning how to build the phone but that they were getting better at assembling it.

Until just recently, the iPhone 5 was certainly playing hard to get. Buyers ordering through Apple's online store and other outlets faced ship times as long as several weeks.

But that finally changed last month as supply began catching up with demand. The ship time through Apple dropped to just one week. Apple Store surveys from analysts found that the phone was readily available , meaning a customer could simply walk in and out with one.

As a result, Apple will see a healthy boost in iPhone sales for the current quarter. Wall Street is looking for sales of 46 million. And some analysts believe the numbers will be higher.

Canaccord Genuity expects sales to hit as high as 47.5 million , up from a prior estimate of 45 million. Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty also thinks Wall Street is being conservative in its estimates.

If the numbers do surge as predicted, Apple will easily increase market share this quarter, further surpassing LG and Motorola. And though Samsung may still be in the lead, the iPhone 5 will narrow the gap with Apple's archrival, perhaps kicking off another tight horse race between the two.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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