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Apple nudges out Samsung for best-selling smartphone: report

For the first time Apple?s iPhone 5 outsold Samsung?s Galaxy S3 smartphone in the fourth-quarter of 2012, pointing to the growth in the premium smartphone market, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.

In Strategy Analytics? ?Apple iPhone 5 Becomes World's Best-Selling Smartphone Model in Q4 2012? report, the company estimates that Apple shipped 27.4 million iPhone 5 devices in the fourth quarter of 2012. To compare, Samsung shipped a reported 15.4 million Galaxy S3 phones.

?For marketers, this is a big opportunity to target a growing base of premium customers buying premium iPhones,? said Neil Shah, senior analyst for the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics, Newton, MA.

?Our research also depicts that almost a third of the smartphone market is captured by top five best-selling premium models, which means less fragmentation and less headache for marketers in terms of developing mobile-based ads to match different smartphone form factors,? he said.

Apple?s bite
Per the report, a variety of factors go into Apple?s growth in the last quarter of 2012.
The manufacturer launched the iPhone 5 in September of last year with a few new features that were well-received by consumers.

For example, the design was made sleeker with an elongated and narrower size.

The launch also coordinated with prime holiday shopping, which most likely contributes to the high number of initial sales.

Additionally, the report points to strong brand awareness and marketing, a broad distribution network and generous operator subsidies as reasons why the iPhone 5 initially took off well with consumers.

Only six million iPhone 5 devices were shipped during the third quarter of 2012. The device?s 27.4 million shipments represent 12.6 percent of the global smartphone market share.

Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple also shipped 17.4 million iPhone 4S units in the fourth quarter of 2012, which is equivalent to eight percent of the smartphone global share.

Despite the launch of the iPhone 5 at the end of 2012, iPhone 4S shipments increased quarter over quarter. It is estimated that Apple shipped 16.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012, representing 9.4 percent of global smartphone share.

Strategy Analytics estimates that the combined fourth-quarter iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 shipments represent one-fifth of all smartphones shipped.

Slipping sales?
The 15.4 million fourth quarter shipments of Samsung?s Galaxy S3 smartphones represent 7.1 percent of the global smartphone market. This makes it the third-best selling smartphone after the two iPhone models.

This is a decrease from the device?s estimated 18 million shipments in the third quarter of 2012, which represented 10.4 percent of the global smartphones shipments.

Samsung?s Galaxy S3 smartphone has been a hit due to its lower price point. However, the smartphone launched in May 2011.

Samsung?s next release of the Galaxy S4 could potentially place the manufacturer back on top if the device is substantially different from the Galaxy S3.

As consumers continue to pony up big amounts of money for their mobile devices, manufacturers are forced to constantly reinvent and update their products to keep up with consumer demand.

?This research doesn?t exactly capture the externalities on the influence created by consumers buying these devices to buy other devices,? Mr. Shah said.

?But I can guide that majority of these premium smartphone buyers have a higher share of wallet, especially in markets such as the United States and Western Europe where the smartphones are subsidized, enabling consumers to buy other devices,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York