Samsung overtook Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor in the last quarter, shipping 27.8 million smartphones during the July-September period to take 23.8% of the market. Apple’s 17.1 million shipments, comprising 14.6% of the market, put it at a distant second. Nokia (NYSE:NOK) maintained its position in third place.
Samsung has built its business on the back of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, using the software to boost sales of its Galaxy smartphones, and its Galaxy tablets as well. “Samsung has come out with products that appeal to all the different form factors and specifications out there,” said T.Z. Wong, a Beijing-based analyst at researcher IDC. “That is a strategy they have executed very well.”
“Samsung’s rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution,” according to Strategy Analytics. “Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem.”
The global smartphone market grew 44% last quarter from a year earlier to 117 million units. Nokia dropped from 32.7% a year earlier to accounting for just 14.4% of the market last quarter. Nokia maintained its top spot in the wider mobile-phone market. Though its share fell 5%, its 27.3% share kept it ahead of Samsung’s 22.6%, with LG Electronics coming in third.
Apple’s profits fell last quarter, missing analysts’ estimates for the first time in at least six years as customers delayed handset purchases in anticipation of a new iPhone. Sales of the new iPhone 4S, which began October 14, surpassed 4 million in the first weekend. Samsung and Nokia also released new handsets this month. This quarter will see Apple’s new iPhone, with its Siri voice-command digital assistant, going head-to-head with Samsung and Google’s talk-to-type technology available with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich.