Apple may be seeing some success in the courts when it comes to its war on Samsung, but Samsung has the upper hand when it comes to sheer shipment numbers. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones globally during the third quarter of 2011, up from a mere 7.5 million during the same quarter in 2010. That’s an increase of 370 percent year-over-year, allowing Samsung to leapfrog both Apple and Nokia.
Apple, by comparison, shipped 17.1 million handsets during Q3 2011, up from 14.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Nokia’s smartphone shipments dropped from 26.5 million in Q3 2010 to just 16.8 million in Q3 2011, according to Strategy Analytics’ numbers. This puts Samsung at 23.8 percent of the global smartphone market, with Apple coming in second at 14.6 percent and Nokia at 14.4 percent. “Others” made up 47.3 percent of the market.
Strategy Analytics credited Samsung’s success to the popularity of Android, extensive global distribution, and “elegant hardware designs.” Samsung has taken some flak for its product designs as of late, with a German court ruling in August that Samsung had violated Apple’s European Community design registration for the iPad, and a US judge mirroring those comments earlier this month. US District Judge Lucy Koh still has yet to determine whether Apple’s US design patents should even be considered valid, but said that if they were, Samsung would be violating them.
Although these statements have so far applied to the Galaxy Tab and the iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones mimic the design of the Galaxy Tab, so they all share similar characteristics. The Galaxy SII in particular, which Strategy Analytics credits as offering tough competition to Apple, is strikingly similar to theiPhone 4 and 4S.
But Samsung’s “elegant hardware designs” are only one part of the story—Strategy Analytics noted that these numbers came in before the launch of the iPhone 4S. “We believe Apple’s growth during the third quarter was affected by consumers and operators awaiting the launch of the new iPhone 4S in the fourth quarter, volatile economic conditions in several key countries, and tougher competition from Samsung’s popular Galaxy S2 model,” Strategy Analytics director Neil Mawston said in a statement.
Indeed, the iPhone 4S has been setting new records for Apple. The company sold 4 million devices during the first three days after launch, beating its previous record of 1.7 million iPhone 4s in the first three days after its launch in 2010. The increase can largely be credited to wider distribution and more carrier partners this time around, but 4 million in one weekend is still nothing to sneeze at. Meanwhile, Nokia took its lumps as it transitioned from Symbian to Windows Phone 7 for its smartphone operating system—Strategy Analytics described it as a “very challenging process”—but the firm remains optimistic that Nokia will see some recovery soon.
“The recent launch of the new Microsoft Lumia portfolio has helped to raise Nokia’s profile, and Nokia will be hoping the partnership with Microsoft can drive at least an L-shaped recovery in its global smartphone market share over the next few months,” director Tom Kang said.
Nokia does look as if it could bounce back with the help of the sleek-looking Lumia 800 and its little brother Lumia 710. They are some of the nicest smartphones Nokia has introduced to date, and they will both run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango.”