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Apple overtakes Samsung as top U.S. mobile phone maker

The iPhone maker outdid archrival Samsung last quarter with more mobile phone shipments and a higher market share, says Strategy Analytics.


Apple was the top mobile phone maker in the U.S. for the first time ever last quarter, Strategy Analytics said today.

Following the iPhone 5's debut last September, Apple shipped an estimated 17.7 million phones in the U.S. in the fourth quarter to score a market share of 34 percent. Those numbers were a healthy rise from the same quarter in 2011 when Apple shipped 12.8 million phones and captured a 25 percent share.

The stats looked at all mobile phones, not just smartphones. Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston attributed Apple's rise to its "popular ecosystem of iPhones and App Store, generous carrier subsidies, and extensive marketing around the new iPhone 5 model."

In second place, Samsung shipped 16.8 million mobile phones in the U.S. to win a 32 percent market share. Those numbers also showed a strong gain from the same quarter in 2011 but couldn't quite match those of the iPhone.

"This was a good performance from Samsung, as its market share rose 5 points from 27 percent a year earlier, but it was not enough to hold off a surging Apple," Mawston said in a statement. "Samsung had been the number one mobile phone vendor in the U.S. since 2008, and it will surely be keen to recapture that title in 2013 by launching improved new models such as the rumored Galaxy S4."

Though Apple had reason to cheer last quarter, Samsung was the top dog for 2012 as a whole in both shipments and market share. And Apple's latest surge was certainly buoyed by strong demand from holiday shoppers. So Samsung could easily take back the crown this quarter.

Strategy Analytics

Which mobile phones were the best sellers last quarter?

The iPhone 5 took the top spot, according to data out today from NPD Group. Samsung's Galaxy S3 grabbed second place, followed by the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, and the Samsung Galaxy S2.

The iPhone 5 accounted for 43 percent of all iPhone sales in the fourth quarter and almost two thirds of all post-paid smartphone sales above $199, NPD said. But the older iPhones continued to do well. Compared with the third quarter of 2012, sales of the iPhone 4 rose by 79 pecent and those of the iPhone 4S increased by 43 percent.

Apple's smartphone market share actually dropped to 39 percent from 41 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to NPD.

Over the same time, Samsung's share jumped to 30 percent from 21 percent. But the numbers still put Apple in the lead.

"Even taking into account the tremendous sales growth of the Galaxy S3 and other Samsung smartphones, the iPhone is still king of the U.S.-market hill," Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, said in a statement. "In addition to strong U.S. sales of iPhone 5, Apple has been bolstered by strong and continued demand for older, less-expensive iPhone models."

Collectively, Apple and Samsung captured almost 70 percent of all smartphone sales during the quarter. That left Motorola with a 7 percent share and HTC and LG each with just 6 percent of the smartphone market.