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Apple reigns as world's top smartphone vendor in Q4

Apple grew by 128 percent and shipped 37 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2011, overtaking Samsung.

As smartphone shipments continued to surge throughout 2011, Apple reclaimed its chief position as the No. 1 smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Numbers are rounded Strategy Analytics

Throughout various countries, using dozens of operators, the iPhone family overtook Samsung with 24 percent of the market share in the fourth quarter. During this time, Apple's global smartphone shipments grew by 128 percent and it shipped 37. million phones.

Over the year, all global smartphone shipments increased by 54 percent and in the fourth quarter reached a record number of 155 million phones shipped.

"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," Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston said in a statement.

When all numbers were tallied at the end of the year, the two companies were neck and neck. Samsung shipped 97.4 million units with 19.9 percent of the market share, and Apple shipped 93 million units with 19 percent of the market share.

"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," Mawston said.

The next biggest shipper was Nokia with 77.3 million smartphones shipped and 15.8 percent of the market. However, "Nokia's global smartphone market share halved from 33 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2011," Strategy Analytics' Tom Kang said. "A lackluster touch-screen smartphone portfolio and a limited presence in the huge United States market caused Nokia's shrinkage last year."

"Nokia's partnership with Microsoft will be very much in focus during 2012," Kang added. "The industry will be watching closely to see how swiftly the two companies can expand in the high-value 4G LTE market that is rapidly emerging across the United States, Japan and elsewhere."