Apple and Samsung Take Over Together

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article included incorrect Q1 2012 market-share figures for Nokia, Research In Motion, HTC, and Others. The Fool regrets the error.

The booming smartphone market continues to be a two-horse race, in more ways than one.

On the operating system front, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android now comprise nearly three out of four smartphones sold throughout the world. That's up from their collective 46.3% slice of this growing pie from just a year ago.

Researcher IDC has just come out with its figures for handset makers in the first quarter. On the hardware front, Apple and Samsung are the two top dogs in the smartphone space. The global smartphone market grew by 42.5% in the first quarter to 144.9 million unit shipments, with Apple and Sammy extending their lead.

Vendor Q1 2012 Market Share Q1 2011 Market Share
Samsung 29.1% 11.3%
Apple 24.2% 18.3%
Nokia 8.2% 23.8%
Research In Motion 6.7% 13.6%
HTC 4.8% 8.9%
Others 27% 24.1%
Total 100% 100%

Source: IDC (May 2012). Worldwide smartphone vendors.

Even more interestingly, Samsung has leapfrogged Apple, Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) to take the lead. No one is surprised that RIM continues to bleed market share, sinking into single-digit territory.

This was even faster than I expected. In August, I predicted: "One year from today, BBM Music will be gone, dismissed as a failed experiment, while Research In Motion's market share drops into single-digit territory." RIM's BBM Music service lives on, but we still have three months to go on that forecast.

IDC notes that both Nokia and RIM are in transition. Nokia is migrating to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows Phone for its smartphones, while Research In Motion fades into nothingness.

Apple and Samsung combined claimed 29.6% a year ago, and have now grown to occupy 53.3% of the smartphone market.

Looking beyond the smartphone market at the broader mobile phone market, Samsung and Nokia are still No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with extensive feature phone offerings. Apple now claims 8.8% of the entire mobile phone market, even though it only offers a smartphone. Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed his belief that one day all mobile phones will be smartphones, meaning it has plenty of opportunity to continue stealing share.

For now, the smartphone market continues to be two different two-horse races: Apple vs. Google, and Apple vs. Samsung.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (18)

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 May 01, 2012, at 9:11 PM, Mrr82 wrote:

    Hi, your 2012 market share numbers are wrong. They add up to like 120%.

  • Report this Comment On May 01, 2012, at 9:58 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:


    Oops! You're absolutely right, I accidentally used the unit shipment figures instead of market share %s for some. One moment while I get that updated. Thanks for pointing it out.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 7:42 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    The thing everyone still forgets is that the iPhone out sells any other single phone.

  • Report this Comment On May 02, 2012, at 5:31 PM, melegross wrote:

    One other thing. We have no idea as to how many smartphones Samung ships, much less sells. Since early last year, they have refused to provide any numbers, so everything we read is just guessed at. In other words, made up.

    I've seen estimates for the last quarter range from 32 million to 45 million. That's an almost useless range.

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