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IDC: Apple sold most smartphones in Q4, but Samsung wins 2011

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Updated. Both Apple(s AAPL) and Samsung have sold a historic amount of smartphones in the past year, and coming up with a tally of who sold more is harder than you’d think. But IDC says they’ve done all the number crunching looking at company shipments and have determined the most popular smartphone maker.

Apple’s 37 million iPhones sold last quarter were good enough to just eke out a win in smartphones sold during the final three months of 2011. Meanwhile, Samsung shipped 36 million units during the same time frame, according to IDC.

But for all of 2011, Samsung actually shipped the most smartphones, to the tune of 94 million units, IDC says. That’s an increase in shipments of 310 percent for the company compared to 2010, when the company shipped just 22.9 million smartphones — a huge growth rate.

Apple was very close behind, with 93.2 million iPhones shipped during 2011, which, at 96 percent for the year, is also impressive growth but nowhere near Samsung’s amazing showing.

If you’ve been following along then it won’t be a surprise that the rest of the smartphone pack failed to keep pace with these two. Nokia(s NOK) was a distant third for the year with 77.3 million smartphones shipped, followed by RIM(S RIMM) with 51.1 BlackBerrys shipped, and HTC with 43.5 million units.

The final tally for 2011 worldwide market share finds Samsung with a 19.1 percent share, and Apple with a 19 percent share. Some might say that’s too close to call. Whatever the exact numbers are, the real story is clearly how over the course of 2011 the smartphone market has coalesced around these two companies. I’d say 2012 is going to be a very interesting year in smartphones.

Note: This story originally misattributed the data to The NPD Group. The report is from IDC.

7 Responses to “IDC: Apple sold most smartphones in Q4, but Samsung wins 2011”

  1. The Gnome

    Awesome feat when you compare just one device to dozens (seems more like hundreds) from Samsung (and a few copy-cats to boot)

    But those who think this is a battle vs. war thing are losers. Honestly, check the financials lately? Um… yea, tell me who’s “winning” again?

  2. Smoking Joe Frasier

    Samsung needed all the help it could muster. Apple and Verizon finally got their act together and along with Sprint that had to help. But Samsung required all of the carriers and Android and Windows 7 to boot. And the nail in the coffin is when you design your phone to look like the coolest most innovative and sexiest phone that could help take you over the top. Samsung’s mobile phones shamelessly copied the iPhone design rather than come up with something unique so that Samsung can separate themselves from Apple and competition. Why copy when you can employ resources from inside of Korea for their industrial design talents. Apple goes to great lengths and painstaking detail to produce first class level products and I fail to see why the rest of the world can’t do the same.
    And that is why Apple will garner most of the profits even though they are not the market leader in phones and tablets. They developed, designed and own an ecological system that will take them way far leaving the body count behind them.

  3. What gets in the way when I use my smartphone is the lack of reliable broadband access. There’s still not enough to go round, and doing everything I want to do with it is expensive, unless I focus on using public WiFi points. I read this article about white spaces tech, and I’m interested if perhaps this will be part of the future for mobility?