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Apple overtakes Samsung in smartphone shipments: Research

Apple overtook Samsung again in smartphone shipments during the last quarter of 2011, data from leading mobile analyst firm Juniper Research shows.

iPhones made up almost a quarter (37 million) of the 149 million smartphones shipped worldwide in Q4. Meanwhile, Samsung has quadrupled its market share since Q1 2010 from 4.7% to 21.7%.

While Apple sold 4 million iPhone 4Ss within three days of launch, the company’s return to top spot was partly driven by continuing to offer older models, Juniper believes. The iPhone 3GS –first launched in 2009 – is still sold at rock-bottom prices and Juniper said it sees this as an effort to keep ahead of Samsung’s standard and premium smartphones.

“The scale of Samsung’s product range is saturating the market. Apple has had to counter Samsung’s products like the Galaxy Ace in order to maintain the visibility of its brand,” said Daniel Ashdown, research analyst with Juniper Research.

While Apple and Samsung have traded places for the past three quarters, results of other OEMs were more muted. Taiwan-based HTC was the only other member of the top five to see significant year-on-year growth. Juniper estimates, prior to official data, that the company shipped 12.1 million smartphones in Q4.

Elsewhere troubled Blackberry-maker RIM’s woes will be soothed somewhat as shipments remained steady year-on-year at 14.4 million, down just 0.7%. 2012 will be an important year for Nokia as it looks to fight back with a full-year of Windows Phone 7 launches. The Finnish OEMs smartphone shipments were down 31% y-o-y in the fourth quarter.

470 million smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2011.

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