In Epic Smartphone Battle, Samsung Nudges Apple Out of First Place

Global Smartphone Sales Up in Q3, Taking 30% of the Market

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Samsung Electronics Co. overtook Apple Inc. in the last quarter to become the world's largest smartphone vendor amid a widening technology and legal battle between the two companies.

Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones in the last quarter, taking 23.8% of the market, U.K.-based Strategy Analytics said today. Apple's 17.1 million shipments, composing 14.6% of the market, pushed the Cupertino, California-based company to second place. Nokia stayed in third.

The Samsung Galaxy II Epic
The Samsung Galaxy II Epic

Apple, which released its iPhone 4S this month, held the top spot for only one quarter after dethroning Nokia earlier this year. Samsung, based in South Korea, has turned to Google's Android software to boost sales of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.

"Samsung has come out with products that appeal to all the different form factors and specifications out there," said T.Z. Wong, a Beijing-based analyst at researcher IDC. "That is a strategy they have executed very well."

"Samsung's rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution," Strategy Analytics wrote.

Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, wasn't immediately available for comment after normal business hours. Nam Ki Yung, a Seoul-based spokesman for Samsung, declined to comment on the research company's estimate.

The global smartphone market climbed 44% from a year earlier to 117 million units, Strategy Analytics said. That's 30% of all global market shipments, including lower-cost feature phones, which climbed 14% to 390 million units, according to the research firm.

In the wider mobile-phone market, Nokia maintained its top spot even after losing 5 percentage points of share, the researcher said in a separate statement. Its 27.3% kept it ahead of Samsung's 22 .6%, with LG Electronics Inc. third.

Chinese phone maker ZTE Corp.'s cheaper handsets helped it take 4.7% and overtake Apple for fourth place.

Samsung, also the world's largest manufacturer of televisions, today reported record revenue from its phone division that helped mask a slump in earnings from computer- memory chips and panels.

Samsung, also the world's largest manufacturer of TVs, today reported record revenue from its phone division that helped mask a slump in earnings from computer memory chips and panels.

Apple and Samsung have accused each other of infringing patents for technology used in handsets and tablets, with court cases still pending in Milan and Sydney. Legal battles between the two companies intensified after Apple claimed in an April lawsuit in the U.S. that Samsung's Galaxy devices "slavishly" copied the iPhone and the iPad.

Apple's profit last quarter missed analysts' estimates for the first time in at least six years after customers delayed handset purchases in anticipation of its new phone. Sales of its new model, the iPhone 4S, surpassed 4 million in the first weekend of sales that began Oct. 14, topping Apple's previous sales record for its handsets.

Samsung and Nokia also released new handsets this month as consumers increasingly use mobile phones to surf the internet, play videos and access social-networking sites.

Samsung and Google pit the talk-to-type technology of Android Ice Cream Sandwich against Apple's Siri voice-command digital assistant. Nokia, which has a partnership with Microsoft Corp., this week unveiled its Windows-based handset, called Lumia 800.

~~~Bloomberg News~~~

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