Analyst: Apple iPhone Extended Market Share Gains in February

Apple’s iPhone saw strong U.S. sales during the month of February, according to new research from Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley. The analyst believes that Apple’s smartphone continued to gain market share during the month, extending Apple’s lead as the top smartphone device hardware maker.

“Our February checks indicated the iPhone continues to extend its market share gains following its remarkable Q4/C2011 market share gains,” the wrote in a research note to clients obtained by The Mac Observer. “We believe iPhones are outselling all other smartphones combined at the Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon channels since the iPhone 4S launch.”

“In fact,” he added, “we believe iPhone increased its sell-through market share at both AT&T and Sprint during February, while maintaining very strong share at Verizon.”

The analyst is currently estimating sales of 32.6 million iPhones during the quarter.

Bully Boys

Apple and Samsung are turning into the two bullies of the U.S. smartphone hardware market. The analyst said that Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy S II devices have been dominating the market, while Research In Motion and former Android darling HTC have seen sharp drops in their market share.

“Following the launch of the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S II, our checks have indicated strong share gains for Apple and Samsung with steep share losses for both HTC and RIM in the US market,” Mr. Walkley wrote.

According to Canaccord’s research, Apple’s iPhone 4S was the top selling device in the U.S. at AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint for each of the last three months. Samsung’s Galaxy was #2 at each of the carriers for the same period. Interestingly, the iPhone 4 was the third best selling device at AT&T and Sprint—at Verizon, the #3 device was Motorola’s Droid RAZR.

Canaccord Chart

Month-over-month comparison of top selling handset models – past six months
Source: Canaccord Genuity monthly channel checks
(Click the chart for a larger version)

The analyst also said that Verizon has been very successful at promoting its LTE network by offering more data to users for the same price. The iPhone 4S, which does not support LTE, fared less well at Verizon than it did at AT&T and Sprint, though it was still the top selling device.

“Our checks indicated sales of the iPhone 4S at Verizon were not as strong in terms of total smartphone sales versus AT&T and Sprint,” the analyst wrote. “We believe this was due in part to the LTE promotions at Verizon and the fact many Verizon customers recently bought the iPhone 4 and were locked into a two-year contract and thus not eligible for a subsidized iPhone 4S.”

Mr. Walkley maintained his US$665 price target for AAPL and maintained his “Buy” rating on the stock.

Shares of AAPL declined on Monday. In the late afternoon session, the stock was trading at $533.035 per share, down $12.145 (-2.23%), on strong volume.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.