Strategy Analytics has crunched most of the fourth quarter results announced this week (including Apple's), and figures the iPhone maker is now the top smartphone manufacturer, but only by a sliver. In Q4 2011, Apple claimed 23.9% of global smartphone market share, and Samsung trailed only slightly, with 23.5%. That's just counting Q4, too; for the whole year, Samsung beat out Apple by a single percentage point. Beyond smartphones, in the world of mobiles at large, Apple was relatively far behind. iPhones constituted 8.3% of the world's handsets, while Nokia still clung the top spot with 25.5%, followed by Samsung with 21.3% global market share. Although that shows the iPhone still has a long ways to go, it did boast the best growth out of the three; during the same quarter last year, Apple only constituted 4.0% of the global market. The folks at Strategy Analytics stepped in for a few comments. Associate Director Alex Spektor said "Apple’s growth was fueled by intense demand for its refreshed iPhone 4S, as well as the availability of three generations of iPhones at a variety of price points at operators like AT&T in the United States," but there's a lot of promise internationally, too. Tom Kang, another director, said "China is becoming a key market for Apple this year, and we expect Apple’s share to grow rapidly in 2012, despite countless copycat rivals.” Nokia's having a rough time holding onto their top spot, despite generally positive reviews of their first Windows Phones. According to Executive Director Neil Mawston, “Nokia’s global handset shipments declined 8 percent annually to 113.5 million units in Q4 2011. Volumes were buoyed by the sales of Nokia’s low-end dual-SIM models in emerging markets like Southeast Asia, but were a little soft overall, as initial shipments of Microsoft Lumia phones could not offset declining Symbian sales." It's rarely a surprise to see Apple doing well in terms of sales, but they'll have to keep working hard in order to stay ahead of Samsung. We're seeing lots of different Android phones coming out of Samsung to address different price points, and though Spektor's right that there are older iPhones still on the market, they lack the forward-compatibility of many Android handsets. It's worth noting that according to Strategy Analytics, the overall smartphone market grew 63.1% in 2011, versus 71.4% growth in 2010. Do you guys think smartphone momentum is starting to plateau, or is this just a slight bump in the road? Source: Strategy Analytics via Apple Insider
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