Android, Samsung top smartphone sales, beat Apple's iPhone

Gartner data finds booming smartphone sales, but also sees overall decline in overall shipments of mobile phones

Android smartphones made up 56% of the global smartphones sold to end users in the first quarter of 2012, giving them a far higher share than the 22.9% held by Apple's runner-up iPhone, Gartner said Wednesday.

According to Gartner's data, Samsung was by far the biggest Android smartphone maker as its devices accounted for nearly 44% of Android-based smartphone sales. The other Android vendors, including HTC or Motorola, were all at 10% or less, Gartner said.

With the 34.5 million Samsung Android smartphones sold ( a 23.9% share), the South Korean manufacturer beat out the 33.1 million Apple iPhones sold (a 22.9% share), according to the Gartner tally.

Earlier this month, IDC estimated that Samsung shipped more smartphones to retailers than Apple in the first quarter. IDC said that Samsung shipped a record 42.2 million smartphones in the quarter compared to 35.1 million Apple iPhones.

Combined, Samsung and iPhone account for one of every two smartphones sold, which makes the business fairly dire for competitors such as Research in Motion and Microsoft, Gartner noted.

RIM accounted for 6.9 % of the 144.3 million smartphones sold in the first quarter, while Microsoft sold just 1.9% of the total.

While Gartner noted that about 44 million more smartphones were sold in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, the number of mobile phones in the all-inclusive market declined by 2% to 419 million.

It's the first time mobile phone sales have declined since since the second quarter of 2009. Gartner blamed slower demand in the Asia/Pacific region.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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