Summary:

Apple’s huge iPhone sales numbers from its latest quarterly results helped it grow its mobile phone business by 128.4 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a new report. That makes it the third-largest mobile phone maker by volume.

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Apple’s huge iPhone sales numbers from its latest quarterly results and the overall success of its iPhone 4S helped it grow its mobile phone business by 128.4 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a new IDC report. That was good enough to help the company climb to third place overall in worldwide smartphone shipments, leapfrogging both ZTE and LG Electronics.

Apple’s 37 million fourth quarter iPhone shipments were a far cry from the market leaders, however. Nokia still ruled the roost with 113.5 million handset shipments, while Samsung edged closer to grabbing the top spot with a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year, to a total of 97.6 million units shipped. Samsung succeeded by growing its smartphone sales, but also by increasing its feature phone shipment numbers in an otherwise soft market for those devices.

While Apple was the biggest gainer percentage-wise during the quarter, LG suffered the biggest drop,with a negative 42.2 percent change compared to the same period in 2010. Its total shipments were at 17.7 million for the year, which is on par with 2007 levels. LG definitely felt the hit of the waning feature phone market and was unable to do much to impress consumers with its smartphones, either.

Apple also ranked third overall in terms of  mobile phone shipments throughout the whole calendar year thanks to its fourth quarter results, with 93.2 iPhone shipments and year-over-year growth of 96.2 percent.

IDC predicts that the mobile phone market will continue to experience double-digit growth, despite only seeing 11.1 percent growth year-over-year in 2011, versus 18.7 percent growth between 2009 and 2010.

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