Gartner: Apple Skips Past Samsung in Smartphone Sales, Can't Catch Android

Paul Lilly

Apple became the world's top smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter of 2011 by nabbing a 23.8 percent share of the global market, and 19 percent for 2011 as a whole, according to data released today by market research firm Gartner. According to Gartner, Apple sold 35.5 million iPhone devices in Q4 2011, representing a 121.4 percent year-on-year increase, though iOS still trails Android by a wide margin.

Samsung may no longer be the top smartphone vendor, but it contributed to Android's continued dominance in the fourth quarter of 2011, in which there were 75.9 million Android smartphone sales, giving Google's open source platform a greater than 50 percent share of the market (50.9 percent, to be exact), more than twice that of iOS. Apple was able to make some headway in terms of mobile OS market share, but the gains may be short lived as the iPhone 4S frenzy starts to subside.

"iOS's market share grew 8 percentage points year-on-year, but Gartner analysts expect Apple's share to drop in the next couple of quarters as the upgrade cycle to the iPhone 4S slows," Gartner said .

In terms of worldwide mobile device sales, including feature phones, Nokia still sits on top. Nokia sold 111.7 million mobile devices in the fourth quarter of 2011 for a 23.4 percent share of the market. Samsung came in second place with 92.6 million mobile device sales and a 19.4 percent share, followed by Apple, which has a 7.4 percent share of the mobile device market resulting solely from its iPhone devices.

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