Apple iPhone Tops in U.S., Global Smartphones for Q4

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Apple’s iPhone was the top selling device in both the U.S. and the global smartphone markets during the December quarter, according to new research from NPD and IDC. NPD released a report for the U.S. market that showed Apple was the #1 device maker during the quarter with 43% of the market, while IDC said that Apple outsold Samsung and LG to be the #1 vendor in the broader global smartphone market.

NPD was effusive in its praise of Apple’s new iPhone 4S, which was released at the beginning of the quarter. The firm cited the new model as the main catalyst for Apple’s smartphone growth during the quarter, when the company sold a record 37 million iPhones.

“Attracted by a faster processor, improved camera and the Siri speech-driven agent, most iPhone buyers paid a premium for the iPhone 4S, making it the top-selling handset in Q4,” Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, said in a statement. “The iPhone 4S outsold the iPhone 4 by 75 percent, and outsold the iPhone 3GS, available for free on AT&T, five to one.”

Apple’s iPhone did so well that it claimed the first three positions in the top five best selling phones. According to NPD, that included: Apple iPhone 4S, Apple iPhone 4, Apple iPhone 3GS, Samsung GALAXY S II, and the Samsung GALAXY S 4G.

In other words, Apple’s two and half year old iPhone 3GS outsold every other device from every other maker in the U.S. Apple currently offers the iPhone 3GS for free in the U.S. for new contracts.

NPD said that Apple’s iOS platform claimed 43 percent of the market, while Android claimed 48 percent, leaving just nine percent for Research In Motion, Windows Phone 7, and any and all other competitors to play around in. On the other hand, the chart below shows that Android did better when looking only at first-time smartphone buyers, where Android claimed 57 percent of the market and iOS claimed 34 percent.

NPD Chart

“Android has been criticized for offering a more complex user experience than its competitors, but the company’s wide carrier support and large app selection is appealing to new smartphone customers,” Mr. Rubin said. “Android’s support of LTE at Verizon has also made it the exclusive choice for customers who want to take advantage of that carrier’s fastest network.”

Global Sales

In the much larger global market, Apple still did well, according to IDC. The iPhone maker claimed 23.5 percent of the global smartphone market during the December quarter, up from 15.9 percent in the year ago quarter. Samsung was close behind with 22.8 percent of the market, while Nokia had 12.8 percent share. Research In Motion came in fourth with 8.2 percent share, while HTC was fifth with 6.5 percent.

IDC Chart

Source: IDC

“Apple climbed back into the market leadership position with the launch of its iPhone 4S worldwide,” IDC wrote in a statement. “In the process it reached a new shipment volume record for itself and for the entire industry for a single quarter. Although the iPhone 4S disappointed some detractors by lacking 4G LTE connectivity or a different size screen, demand was high for the device. In addition, the combination of holiday seasonality, the delay in product launch from 3Q to 4Q, and the addition of multiple mobile operators helped drive volumes higher.”

IDC said the global smartphone market grew some 54.7 percent to reach 157.8 million units during the quarter, well ahead of its estimates of 40 percent year-over-year growth.

“So-called ‘hero’ devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and Apple’s iPhone 4S, garner the bulk of the attention heaped on the device type,” Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program, said. “But a growing number of sub-$250 device offerings, based on the Android operating system, have allowed Google’s hardware partners to grow smartphone volumes and expand the market concurrently.”



Android has been criticized for offering a more complex user experience than its competitors, but the company?s wide carrier support and large app selection is appea…

That’s a complexing way to phrase it.


Whither now the detractors?

Methinks they take another tack,

‘For never assailed the iPhone4 - S, did we’, they’ll cry,

‘Aye, all along we had its back!’

‘And n’er once did we utter the word “Fail!”,

‘Nay, from our lips, twas the word “Prevail!”’

Thus, is history is ever re-written.


(Red-faced android lover) “But it doesn’t matter on individual phone sales!! Android is still bigger!!  Ha!!  You hear that fanboys?  Android is still bigger!!  We win!!  In about a year iOS will be in the 10% range and we’ll all be laughing about it!!  Apple will rue the day when they went up against Google!!”

The red-faced android lover appearing in this work is fictitious.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Wow, great article Bryan.  Further and continuing proof of Apple’s successes.

Lee Dronick

Good one Wab95!

I love my Rhyme app.


Well, if we can’t find any loyal Apple-detractors here today to temper our fanboi/gal exuberance, let me try to leap into the breach:

Whether Apple’s 4Q11 record-level sales continue apace (or even at all) may depend on whether they were an anomalous artifact of that quarter having had an extra week’s sales to add into it, and that extra week’s sales having been at the normally yearly-high Xmas season rate, plus having additionally included the pent-up enthusiasm of finally being able to get a long-awaited dream-toy.

So we may not get to see whether or not iOS adoption actually is suddenly dramatically out-trending its competition’s rates until we see the figures for 1Q12, or especially for 4Q12, which are for sales of only 13 week-periods.


Buzz kill!

(good sensible, thoughtful post)


So how are those 4G LTE feature-list phones doing anyway? I can only imagine how the whole world would be dumping on Apple if the iPhone had these issues!

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