iPhone 4S helped Apple to record sales
iPhones seize back leadership with over 37m sold in three months, but Samsung and Apple neck-and-neck on whole-year sales

The iPhone 4S helped Apple grab back smartphone leadership in the last quarter of 2011, with 37.04m units shipped worldwide in the peak selling period running up to the Christmas/New Year holidays. Almost a third of all smartphones sold globally in 2011 were shipped in the last quarter.

Those massive sales put Apple comfortably ahead of the 30m+ smartphones sold by Samsung in the same period – in itself a record for the Korean company –, but the two are still neck and neck for sales over the whole year.

According to market analyst IDC, Samsung shipped 94m smartphones in 2011, giving it a global market share of 19.1%, while Apple managed 93.2m iPhones to take a 19% share.

Both companies saw large sales gains, in a market up 61.3% on 2010 levels – well ahead of expectations.

491.4m smartphones were sold worldwide last year, against 304.7m a year before, but while Apple almost doubled its sales, Samsung's increase was almost twice as great.

Batlle is now definitely joined between these two camps, and it will be interesting to see how 2012's figures shape up, given that the iPhone 4S has just been launched in China, plus 21 other countries, on the heels of its successful US and European launches.

Apple's 93.2m iPhone sales were up from 47.5m in 2010, when it held a 15.6% market share; Samsung's rise from 22.9m smartphones in 2010 to 94m last year saw it boosting market share from just 7.5%.

Nokia was in third place, with 77.3m smartphones sold in 2011 against just over 100m in 2010, and a drop in market share from almost 33% to just 15.7%, and while BlackBerry manufacturer RIM increased sales from 48.8m phones in 2010 to 51.1m last year, its market share fell from 16% to 10.4%.

More after the break

And some figures from the US market, courtesy of research company NPD, show that Apple's iOS and Google's Android now account for over 90% of the smartphone market there.

Of the phones sold in the last quarter of last year, 48% ran Android and 43% iOS, while BlackBerry was responsible for just 5% of the market.

Spool back to the same period in 2010, and BlackBerry was tied with Apple on around 19% of the market, showing how fast iOS and Android have grown.

The top three selling smartphones in the US in October-December were the Apple iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

The Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy S 4G completed the top five.

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