Apple Catches Up to Samsung In Global Smartphone Sales

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Apple is close to dethroning Samsung.

A colossal holiday season puts the Cupertino company neck-and-neck with its Korean rival in global smartphone shipments, according to research from IDC released on Thursday. After shipping a record 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, Apple now ships 19.85% of global smartphones, just behind Samsung's 20.01%. Last year, Samsung led Apple by more than 11%.

Apple had a big boost from China, where Samsung has struggled. Chinese sales reached $16.1 billion in the holiday quarter for Apple, a 70% uptick. Samsung, which reported its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, continued to show a decline in mobile sales with profit in the division slipping 64%, although that was an improvement; the prior quarter, mobile profit fell 74%. The company's strongest growth came from its semiconductor business, which climbed 36% to $2.5 billion in revenue.

Globally, in 2013, Samsung outspent Apple in sales and marketing by more than $10 billion.

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo now comes in at third worldwide, after closing its acquisition of Motorola, per IDC. Two other rising Chinese brands, Huawei and Xiaomi, round out the top five, posting 42% and 179% annual shipment growth, respectively.

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