February 1, 2013 7:30 pm

Apple snatches US lead from Samsung

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Apple took leadership of the US mobile phone market from Samsung for the first time in the last three months of 2012, according to an analyst firm.

Despite its premium pricing, the launch of the iPhone 5 helped Apple to end Samsung’s four-year run as the most popular mobile phone maker in the US, Strategy Analytics said on Friday.

Its report comes amid growing concern on Wall Street about Apple’s future growth and its ability to stave off cheaper competition from smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Helped by strong demand for lower-priced, older versions of the iPhone, Apple shipped an estimated 17.7m phones to the US in the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics estimates, giving it a share of 34 per cent, up from 25 per cent a year ago.

Samsung’s US share also increased, from 27 per cent in 2011 to 32 per cent late last year, shipping 16.8m phones, as the gap between the two market leaders and rivals such as Nokia and BlackBerry widened.

LG, the third-largest mobile vendor in the US, saw its share shrink from 14 per cent to 9 per cent over the course of 2012.

The findings raise the stakes for BlackBerry in the week that it launched its latest flagship handset, the Z10.

Strategy Analytics’ report also highlights the growing disparity between the US mobile market and the rest of the world, where Samsung and Android are generally more dominant. Another analyst report, by IDC, found last week that Samsung had extended its lead of the global mobile market to 23 per cent, even though Apple also gained share to 9.9 per cent.

Apple has been vying with Samsung for leadership of the US smartphone market for several years but the run-up to Christmas 2012 marks the first time that it has topped the overall US mobile market, which includes regular handsets that sell for a fraction of the iPhone’s price.

According to NPD, another analyst group, Apple maintained its lead in smartphones, with 39 per cent of the US market in the fourth quarter, despite the Galaxy S3 helping Samsung to boost its market share from 21 per cent a year ago to 30 per cent.

Even as the iPhone strengthens, the iPad is losing ground to Samsung and other rivals globally. Figures from IDC this week showed that, despite October’s launch of the cheaper iPad mini, and year-on-year growth of 48 per cent, Apple’s share of the global tablets market fell from 51.7 per cent to 43.6 per cent.

Apple has said that it was unable to make enough iPad minis to satisfy demand but that it expects stock pressure to ease by the end of March. 

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