Apple and Samsung neck and neck with smartphone, tablet, and laptop sales

Apple nearly tied with Samsung in worldwide mobile device shipments at end of 2012

Apple has nearly closed the distance between itself and Samsung in worldwide sales of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Apple jumped from holding 15.7 percent of worldwide market share in Q3 2012 to having 20.3 in Q4, just behind Samsung’s 21.2 percent. IDC believes that Apple’s jump is due to the debut of the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.

In terms of market share, Apple significantly closed the gap with market leader Samsung in the quarter, as the combination of Apple's iPhone 5 and iPad Mini brought Apple up to 20.3% unit shipment share versus 21.2% for Samsung. On a revenue basis for the fourth quarter, Apple continued to dominate with 30.7% share versus 20.4% share for Samsung.

Worldwide shipments of devices like smartphones and tablets passed 1 billion units last year. Additionally, tablet shipments are expected to overtake desktop shipments this year, and laptop shipments next year. The iPad remains extremely popular, and Apple should be able to hold on to its newfound market share, but they will have a fight on their hands as competition with Samsung continues to escalate.

Source: IDC

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a news reporter for iMore. He's also chilling out and having a sandwich.

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There are 37 comments. Add yours.

BrianTufo says:

Not too bad since Samsung has TONS of phones and tablets on the market. I'd expect them to be ahead and the fact they are barely ahead says a lot IMO.

GaiusPrimus says:

It also says a lot that those numbers also have laptops added into the mix.
Samsung is not generally known on that side of the market, which will skew the numbers towards Apple side.
A much better comparison would be to use each segment's numbers but I have a feeling that in that case Samsung would come out quite ahead.

SockRolid says:

Next step for Samsung: fork Android, call it "Galaxy OS" or something, and cut off all ties to Google Play. This will allow them to further boost Galaxy brand mindshare and to further differentiate themselves from the rapidly thinning herd of generic Android device makers.

Compare this with Microsoft's plastering the "Windows" brand on everything, even their own corporate logo, even if it makes absolutely no sense. When people think "Windows" they think "Yuck. They force me to use that at work." And it's too late to change that negative reaction.

When people think "Galaxy" they think "Yeah, that's the Android brand that's going to survive." Much better image. It's the image that Samsung should keep on cultivating.

SockRolid says:

Look up "The Mythical Man Month."
It takes a long time to develop an OS from scratch.
Android fork is an interim step as Samsung's Tizen devices are rolled out.
First Samsung Tizen device due this year.

applegui says:

SockRolid you just blew my mind! LOL! Just watched Steve Jobs when he first came back to Apple talking about exactly this. The Mythical Man Month. Zoom forward to 10:30 minutes in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhhFQ-3w5tE

raybeem says:

Samsung has sure caught up fast! I'm not sure a mildly upgraded 5s or a non retina iPad mini upgrade is going to push Apple ahead of the future competition!

CORYK333 says:

??? Did you read the article???

williamsbh76 says:

Uhhhh.... Are you an android fan boy or had you head under a rock? Apple CAUGHT UP to Samsung. 5s/iPad Mini not looking too shabby right?

Somin Wadhwa says:

APPLE RULES, no matter what! :)

mk3s says:

I'm reading all these thoughtful comments and after any even mildly pro-Android or -Samsung comments this is what I am thinking. Well done.

rickyromero says:

I'm actually more surprised by the fact that Apple wasn't leading before. The iPad is commonly associated with tablet and has the strongest brand recognition than even Galaxy in the tablet space. Nevertheless, it's great to see Apple catch up: always a good thing to know more people are buying a quality tablet.

lifecansuckbutliveitanyway2012 says:

i really hope that apple can continue to rule the market, because android is not a great possibility for me.

JDMR says:

So funny how all the experts have talked about how much more momentum Samsung has then Apple, when Apple didn't have one phone available on the carrier T-Mobile. Apple's done more harm to their momentum than the competition with the slow to fade exclusivity.

R1cki97 says:

If apples wants to gain more control in the market, they should create something new, hopefully the have a better new iphone and a iwatch

MacIntense says:

I was actually surprised by the facts in this article. I honestly thought that Apple was significantly behind. I think that jumping almost 5% is pretty amazing. I do think that Samsung is pretty confident since they really didn't make a hail mary pass with the new S4 it is basically just an update to the S3 so I think they know they have a bit of a lead. I haven't tried the S3 myself but friends at work have them and are absolutely pleased with the devices. I am all in with Apple since every electronic device in my house and in my pocket is Apple and they all talk together. I think that a lot will depend on the iPhone 5S and what new feature it has as well as any push in hardware. For me it makes more since to buy Apple products especially since if I have a problem with one of my devices I can just schedule an appointment and go to the Apple Store and get it fixed right away and be out the door. Samsung can't compete with that.

Calactus says:

I think the reason why Samsung didn't come up with anything new - or didn't innovate - with the S4 is not because they're confident, but because they have nothing new to steal from Apple.

MacIntense says:

Well you are entitled to your opinion but it is common knowledge that the companies honestly piggy back off each other and maybe they have hit a wall on the hardware side and it looks like from the Samsung event that they think that software apps are the new way to separate from the pack even though Apple has always put out great in house apps. I think that Apple has the edge since their apps seem to feel more polished not to mention the ease of use with iOS. I find the Android OS is not user friendly. I did like the health tracking app that Samsung added but I think that Apple can do it better.

airmanchairman says:

Actually the real figures may even be better for the Fruity corporation - Samsung only reports shipments to sales channels, rather than actual sales, which is what Apple reports.

So the real news is, Apple's worldwide sales have nearly caught up with Samsung's entire global shipments to distribution channels.

This begins to explain Apple's domination of the net earnings (profit) share, year after year...

wscotchmer says:

I think this is good news all around. The top players, neck in neck... It drives innovation as the two companies try to out-do each other. Only good things (for the consumer) can come out of this.

Strings78 says:

So while Apple is selling a ton devices and catching up quickly to the market leader in Samsung, they are the ones being blasted by the media and investors about not selling enough units and being unable to innovate? Sounds like Consumers are starting to make it clear. You also have to take into account how many of those devices are low level smartphones sold in India and China where the iPhone is either not available or costs an absurd amount of money for families with the income they have. Like always, you have to take Samsung's numbers with a grain of salt.

BrianTufo says:

Exactly!!! Samsung has how many S3 variants that were dumbed down and sold as the same thing with a new name monthly to all different countries while Apple has the iPhone and the iPad and their computers. Samsung SHOULD be the #1 considering all the stuff they sell.

Strings78 says:

That's exactly what I'm saying! If Samsung was any position other than #1 they would need to seriously look into their business model and make some drastic changes. Apple being the #2 manufacturer overall and closing the gap should be extremely impressive to everybody!! Very very glad to have somebody else on the same page!

MacIntense says:

I agree with you. If the rumors are true and Apple does release a cheaper plastic version they will definitely surpass Samsung. I have a 4 S and wish I could get a 5 but it looks like I am stuck in the S version rotation.

Strings78 says:

That could be the next big thing for Apple, while maybe not in the US or the UK, in countries like India and China that would allow Apple a crack at Android in the worldwide OS standings and could push them over the edge to become the #1 manufacturer overall. And being stuck on the S cycle is always frustrating haha

shinuyuki says:

I wasn't really expecting much from iPhone as much as the iPad Mini. I knew the Mini would be a great hit because it is lighter and far more transportable. The iPhone continues to disappoint me in terms of battery life(size only). Sure it is the most battery efficient phone; however, you can only stretch that for so long. Either give us 2000+ mah, or a removable battery slot. That being said, due to the ecosystem, I knew iPad Mini would outshine any other Tablet out there.

elcoholic says:

Apple all the way. Just another Apple fanboy

asuperstarr says:

I'm only concerned about my phone maker and what they are offering me. I never really was a big fan of Samsung products. Appear to be cheap!

roelsamson20 says:

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Iphone 5s, Samsung and Apple are Two of the Biggest Mobile Company in the World!

AdrianGabeChen says:

I think apple may lose ground when the iphone 5s whatever comes out unless it's revolutionary and not evolutionary

angermeans says:

Yet another positive showing that apple is doing extremely well except the word around the tech market is still that iOS is lame and apple MUST make a larger iPhone or they will not survive. I think people need to realize apple hasn't gotten where they have gotten without paving their own ground otherwise we would have an apple NetBook that worked just as bad as the other netbooks, an Apple TV without any content providers, and an iPad running OS X. Not that these don't sound like products I wouldn't have purchased at the time, but the point is apple sets the tech trends not follows them.

Team George says:

Apple is clearly taking market share more importantly after it lost out to Microsoft in the 1990s. This could (arguably already has) affect profits in the short term as the mini is cheaper than the full sized Ipad, but it will put them in a stronger shape long term if more people have Apple devices.

rtmartinez24 says:

Just recently got an iPad and I am in love. Made the switch from the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. The iPad is faster, easier to user and has way better Facebook and Twitter integration!

Alan Foster says:

Apple's products are certainly not cheap. The people in the US can cope with the prices although there are demands to lower the prices in the US. But on the international scale, the currency difference elevates the prices so much that it makes them out of reach for a majority. On the other hand, Samsung's products are priced lower than Apple and that makes a huge difference on the international sales charts.

SFCMM_Spuds says:

Ditto on the Apple rules. And android currently not a option to fragmented and skinned

Charles Isaac says:

When I saw this I thought why is Samsung not way ahead of Apple? Price v. quality.

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