IDC Report: Samsung Ahead of Apple in Smartphones for 1Q 2012

Contradicting last week’s IHS iSuppli report that Apple ranked first worldwide in smartphone shipments for the first quarter of 2012, research firm IDC released numbers that show Samsung ahead of Apple on the quarter. The Korean-based electronics company enjoyed a staggering 267 percent year-over-year growth in smartphone shipments to surpass Apple with 29.1 percent of the first quarter’s smartphone market share, according to the IDC report.

IDC Smartphones 1Q 2012Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data.

Apple saw a solid 88.7 percent year-over-year growth in shipments that led the company to achieve 24.2 percent of the smartphone market, up 18.3 percent over the first quarter last year. Additionally, the company, ranked third in overall mobile phone shipments, reached 8.8 percent of worldwide mobile phone market share, a record high.

IDC Mobile Shipments 1Q 2012Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data.

The discrepancy in Samsung’s performance numbers between IHS and IDC exists due to the company’s decision last summer to cease public disclosure of its phone sales data, a decision officially attributed to a desire for a competitive advantage while unofficially linked to the company’s ongoing litigation with Apple. As a result, market research firms are forced to use alternate data to estimate Samsung’s performance, resulting in not-insignificant discrepancies as seen today.

IDC attributes Samsung’s stellar growth to the expansion of its Galaxy line of phones and tablets to multiple price points, screen sizes, processor speeds, and carriers.

“The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program.

Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched.

Nokia, RIM, and HTC rounded out the top five smartphone vendors for the quarter, with each seeing large decreases in year-over-year performance.

Overall, there were 144.9 million smartphones shipped during the quarter, an increase of 42.5 percent from the same quarter last year. Smartphones now account for over 36 percent of all mobile phone sales worldwide.