It's Official: Apple Is King

All hail the new king. According to researcher IDC, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) led the world in fourth-quarter smartphone sales. Here's a closer look at the data:


Q4 2011 Shipment Volumes (mil.)

Q4 2011 Market Share

Q4 2010 Shipment Volumes (mil.)

Q4 2010 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Change

Apple 37.0 23.5% 16.2 15.9% 128.4%
Samsung 36.0 22.8% 9.6 9.4% 275.0%
Nokia 19.6 12.4% 28.1 27.6% (30.6%)
Research In Motion 13.0 8.2% 14.6 14.3% (11.0%)
HTC 10.2 6.5% 8.7 8.5% 17.2%
Others 42.0 26.6% 24.8 24.3% 69.4%
Total 157.8 100% 102.0 100% 54.7%

Source: IDC.

Three things strike me looking at this table:

  1. The iPhone wasn't the fastest grower. Samsung and its range of Android-powered phones led, growing more than twice as fast as the iPhone. That's nitpicking, I realize, since both companies enjoyed triple-digit unit sales growth. Every other named vendor badly trailed the industry's 54.7% average growth rate.
  2. "Other" includes some big names. Notice who didn't make the list. Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) was a non-factor, as was LG. Don't expect Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) to be happy about that. While the deal for Moto's mobile group has yet to close, executives had to be hoping the acquisition would provide hardware heft in a worldwide fight against Apple for market share. Instead, it's HTC and Samsung leading the robot revolution -- and they're both working with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) to deliver Windows Phone handsets.
  3. Nokia needs help now. The former Finnish phenom beat modest expectations last quarter, but as these numbers demonstrate, time is running out. Growth won't return unless the Lumina Windows smartphone turns out to be an unqualified hit.

Android still leads in operating system share globally thanks to the number of smartphone partners the Big G is working with, but the gap is closing due to outrageous iPhone sales. Apple is coming for you, Google. Watch your back.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2012, at 12:40 PM, 1984macman wrote:

    Apple sells mobile computers that all use the same OS. iOS 5 is compatible with the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, both versions of the iPad, and the third- and fourth-generation models of the iPod Touch.

    Is the same true for Samsung?

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2012, at 4:00 PM, Endosperm wrote:

    Hang on, where do these figures come from?

    Samsung doesn't break out smartphone numbers from total phone sales...heck, they don't even give total phone sales numbers. Also, everybody except Apple give 'shipped' not sales figures.

    The reality could be very different.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2012, at 10:49 PM, zato3 wrote:

    After years and years of relentless anti-APPL propaganda for your friends at Microsoft, these numbers must be a serious problem for you. All that APPL hatred didn't do much.

    So what's next? Maybe go all out on the "Chinese slave labor” angle? (The Microsoft New York Times has that one patented.) The "jackbooted Apple goons throw Chinese workers off 10 story building" angle? Nothing seems to work!

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2012, at 11:14 PM, melegross wrote:

    Endosperm is correct, Samsung hasn't given out those numbers for two quarters. They stated that they won't be giving out the numbers of smartphones and tablets shipped anymore. They've never given out numbers of sold devices at all.

    The numbers we see here for them are just guesses. Did they really grow 275%, or is that just smoke?

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