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Summary:

By any measure, Apple’s growth in iPhone sales is impressive — 141 percent from Q2 2010 to Q2 2011 — but Samsung’s growth was more than double that: a whopping 380 percent. It shows the two are likely to be neck and neck for some time to come.

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A few weeks back Apple told us it sold 20.34 million iPhones during the second quarter. Now IDC says that Apple’s deluge of smartphone sales confirms it as the No. 1 seller of smartphones in the world. But the quarterly report, released on Thursday, shows something else too: While Samsung came in second place with an estimated 17 million units sold, the Korean electronics maker saw far greater growth than Apple did from year to year in its smartphone sales. IPhone sales grew 141 percent from the second quarter last year to the second quarter of this year, but Samsung’s growth was more than double that: a whopping 380 percent. And it shows that the two are likely to be neck and neck for some time to come.

IDC Q2 smartphone market share

To be sure, it’s not a simple apples-to-apples comparison: Apple sells just the iPhone, loaded with iOS. Samsung has dozens of smartphone models, powered by three different operating systems: Android, Bada, and Windows Phone 7. But there is one particular phone that’s really striking a chord with buyers. Here’s what IDC found as the keys to Samsung’s rise in the past year:

Samsung realized the largest year-over-year growth of any vendor among the top five, and key to its continued success was the global popularity of its flagship Galaxy S smartphones. What originally began as a series of high-end smartphones has proliferated well into the mass-market, but has not strayed too far from its high-end roots. Moreover, its steady cadence of device releases and updates has kept Samsung’s smartphones well out in front of the competition. Samsung’s bada-powered smartphones likewise grew, while demand for its Windows Phone smartphones has cooled off.

When it comes to Apple, it’s not just the iPhone 4 that’s been selling well. While there hasn’t been a new iPhone released in over a year, IDC found that people continue to buy previous models at a discount.

“Demand has been so strong that even models that have been out for one or two years are still being sought out,” said Ramon Llamas, a senior IDC analyst. “With an expected refresh later this year, volumes are set to reach higher levels.”

And it’s generally good news for the rest of the field too. IDC says it expects the smartphone market to grow 55 percent in 2011 over the previous year’s levels. The exception in the top five is Nokia, whose problems have been well documented. The former smartphone king dropped below 20 million smartphones shipped for the first time since the fall of 2009.

Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr user gillyberlin

  1. Let’s hope that Apple’s patent lawsuit will take the steam out of Samsung’s Galaxy S sales, which is a blatant and disgusting copy of the iPhone. I admire Samsung’s prowess in component design and manufacturing, but I have long detested Samsung consumer products. For years, the company has built its mass market businesses using unethical practices (all too common throughout Asia) by unfairly copying a long list of popular consumer electronics products pioneered by western companies. Americans should NOT be supporting this unethical company.

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    1. and china has nothing to do with asian companies……………………………………………………………………….. you’re intelligent

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    2. And apple has nothing to do with asian companies. They’re completely American in every way shape and form.

      Please disregard the MADE IN CHINA on apple products.

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    3. I, for one, am holding out for the new Galaxy SII… Apple has no business lecturing anybody on copyright infringement, as this was the foundation Steve Jobs built his empire upon. On a second note, perhaps Apple should try building their own phones rather than buying parts from other companies (including Samsung). Apple is far too proprietary for my tastes. The iPhone5 will break sales records, no doubt, but certainly on the fact that the sheep fanboys will be buying based upon a name and not the numbers.

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    4. A it is not a copy of the iphone. B apple does shady business. C just becuase you are a apple supporter does not make you right. Apple is trying to keep there grip on the phone world at all cost. There technology has not changed much in the last four years. They created a market and people have built upon this. All and all they are mad about others catching up and they have stolen patents from Samsung as well. HTC is sueing Apple UK for stealing patents. Its called technolgy learn about it beofre you post stupid comments.

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  2. Because Apple’s business practices are ethical? Goodness, how misinformed are you.

    Find me a completly ethical multinational, and i’ll find you a pink flying cow.

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  3. I doubt it. I have both, and I find the Galaxy S much easier to handle.

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  4. Few companies desire “growth” like Samsung’s — the company actually lost profit share, dropping from 21% in the first quarter of 2008 to 15% presently. If that trend continues, and overall phone profits continue to shrink, Samsung’s phone unit will go out of business.

    Meanwhile Apple climbed to 66% of the profit in the industry. That’s not racing “neck and neck,” that’s lapping the field.

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  5. Mikhail Ratchkovski Friday, August 5, 2011

    It is because of Samsung’s Galaxy we will see iPhone 5 this year. There are soo many patents that it is an industry of its own for the law firms to prosper. Granted we need the system of patents to protect the authors but at this point some of the infringments are so convoluted that it makes no benefit to the creators of products only to the enforcers of those patents.

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  6. Apple has surely gained a lot by Smart Phone Selling..But Samsung is also gaining good market share slowly..I personally find Samsung Smart Phones much more stylish and Cool..Touch Capacity and Apps are just Great

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