Are Apple and Samsung Getting Too Big?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung lead the way as smartphones and tablets decimate sales of notebooks and desktop PCs, according to a new IDC industry report. Meanwhile, the two smartphone-market leaders, suing each other in multiple courts over several continents, are also continuing their own head-to-head battle.

The combined shipments of PCs, tablets, and smartphones grew 27.1 percent year-over-year in the third quarter, according to IDC, with a total of 303.6 million devices totaling up to a worth of $140.4 billion. But smartphones and tablets and dominated the growth, and a similar trend is expected in the current quarter. The IDC expects tablet shipments in the fourth quarter to grow 55.8 percent and smartphones to rise 39.5 percent. PC shipments, meanwhile, are expected to decline slightly from the fourth quarter in 2011.

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While Samsung maintained its top spot in terms of market share based on shipments, at 21.8 percent, Apple led in the value of products shipped, with $34.1 billion in quarterly sales and an average selling price of $744.

“The battle between Samsung and Apple at the top of the smart connected device space is stronger than ever,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said. “Both vendors compete at the top of the tablet and smartphone markets. However, the difference in their collective ASPs (average selling prices) is a telling sign of different market approaches. The fact that Apple’s ASP is $310 higher than Samsung’s with just over 20 million fewer shipments in the quarter speaks volumes about the premium product line that Apple sells.”

In terms of shipments, Apple, with 15.1 percent, was in second place after Samsung, and was followed by Lenovo at 7 percent, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) at 4.6 percent, and Sony (NYSE:SNE) at 3.6 percent.

According to the report, the news is depressing for PCs and notebooks. In 2011, the combination of desktop and portable PCs accounted for 39.1 percent of the connected device market, but by 2016 it is expected to drop to 19.9 percent. While smartphones will grow from a 66.7 percent share in 2016 from 53.1 percent in 2011, tablets will rise to 13.4 percent from 7.7 percent.

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