Samsung Edges Apple to Take Top Spot in 2011 Smartphone Sales

Paul Lilly

It's really a shame that the intense competition between Apple and Samsung is marred by lawsuits and counter-suits over patent portfolios, because at the end of the day, it'd be far more entertaining to see these two attack each in ad campaigns than to let their respective lawyers smack one another with legal mumbo jumbo. Even with the distractions of multiple lawsuits, it's turning out to be a pretty tight race.

Samsung emerged as the No. 1 smartphone maker in 2011 by shipping 95 million units throughout the year, a staggering 278 percent increase over 2010, and barely enough to slide in front of Apple, which shipped 93 million iPhone devices, representing an also impressive 96 percent growth rate, according to data published by IHS iSuppli .

Apple retook the lead in the fourth quarter by shipping 37 million iPhones, compared to Samsung's 36 million units shipped. The iPhone 4S launch bolstered Apple's smartphone sales and contributed to Cupertino's 117 percent quarterly growth rate, compared to Samsung's 28 percent.

"Apple’s introduction of the 4S in the fourth quarter unleashed tremendous pent-up demand for the iPhone as consumers awaited the arrival of the latest model," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at IHS. "This caused the company’s smartphone shipments to surge, allowing it to retake market leadership by a slight margin. However, Apple and Samsung continue to run neck and neck in global smartphone shipments, setting up a tight battle for leadership that will continue throughout 2012."

A battle that could ultimately be decided by courts and not consumers.

Around the web