Samsung is the top-selling smartphone worldwide for the first time ever, according to Information Handling Services Inc. The combination of Samsung's growing and Apple's declining during the third quarter of 2011 caused the reversal of fortunes. However, Apple's pent-up demand in the third quarter has been released in the fourth quarter, resulting in a stunning sales record since its recent introduction of the iPhone 4S, putting Apple back on course to outsell Samsung in the fourth quarter. The crown of top 2011 smartphone hangs in the balance, a race that is too close to call, according to IHS.
According to IHS, Samsung shipped over 27 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2011, up almost 44 percent over the second quarter when it shipped 19 million smartphones. However, Apple's sales went down in the third quarter of 2011. This was a result of people holding off on buying an iPhone in anticipation of a new model, which was expected to be the iPhone 5, but was in fact the iPhone 4S. As a result, Apple's shipments declined to just over 17 million in the third quarter of 2011, down from more than 20 million shipped in the second quarter (which was 1 million more than Samsung).
Samsung’s overall market share in smartphones in the third quarter rose to over 23 percent from about 17 percent in the second quarter. This put Samsung in the No. 1 slot, ahead of Apple with its share of less than 15 percent, compared with more than 18 percent in the second quarter. As a result, Apple fell to the No. 2 slot for the first time since it began selling smartphones.
"With the iPhone 4S now shipping in high volume, Apple is enjoying a sales spike in the fourth quarter that is expected to put it in a neck-and-neck battle for smartphone leadership with Samsung," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at IHS.
So far, Apple appears to be on-track to regain the No. 1 spot in the fourth quarter of 2011, reporting a stunning 4 million units sold during the first weekend of availability of the iPhone 4s. IHS predicts that Apple will sell more than 30 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, giving it total unit sales of 85 million for the year.
Samsung, on the other hand, is enjoying stronger growth overall, second only to the growth of HTC, which expanded its market share by 10 percent, compared with a 5 percent expansion by Samsung.