Samsung overtakes Apple to win smartphone crown

Samsung Electronics' share of the global smartphone market nearly quadruples in the third quarter as the total market hits record unit shipments.

The Galaxy S II has helped drive Samsung's market share gains.
Josh Miller

Samsung Electronics surged past Apple in smartphone shipments in the third quarter, helped by the wide availability of its flagship Galaxy S II handset.

Samsung controlled 23.8 percent of the global market for smartphones, according to a recent study released by Strategy Analytics. Apple, meanwhile, had 14.6 percent of the market.

It's been a rapid ascent in the smartphone world for Samsung thanks to its aggressive embrace of Google's Android smartphone platform. The company built upon the early success of its flagship Galaxy S smartphones with the Galaxy S II this year, which has seen even wider consumer adoption. In the U.S., Samsung customized versions for AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint Nextel.

"Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem," said Alex Spektor, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The market share for Samsung nearly tripled from its year-earlier market share of 9.3 percent. Apple, meanwhile, fell slightly from its 17.4 percent share from a year ago. Its share could rise again with the introduction of the iPhone 4S earlier this month.

"We believe Apple's growth during the third quarter was affected by consumers and operators awaiting the launch of the new iPhone 4S in the fourth quarter, volatile economic conditions in several key countries, and tougher competition from Samsung's popular Galaxy S II model," Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

In total, the global smartphone shipments grew 44 percent to hit a record 117 million units, Strategy Analytics said.

Nokia, meanwhile, saw its market share retreat to 14.4 percent from 32.7 percent a year ago, as consumers opted for Android or iOS devices over Symbian. Nokia earlier this week unveiled its first Windows Phone handsets.

Corrected at 6:21 p.m. PT:The story previously used the shipment numbers in the place of the market share figures. The updated story contains the accurate market share figures.