Samsung beats Apple iPhone, iPad kills Xoom

By Jonny Evans

War between Apple [AAPL] and Samsung [005930.KS] just got more interesting with the latter firm's smartphone shipments surging past those of the fruit-flavored 'iDevice' company.

In tablets, Apple remains well ahead of the pack. Motorola Mobility [MMI] this week revealed it has sold just 100,000 of its hotly-tipped but market-rejected Xoom tablets.


[ABOVE: Strategy Analytics Q3 sales data.]

Samsung's smartphone smarts

Apple slipped to second place in smartphone sales and number five in handset sales in the third quarter of 2011.

Samsung's smartphone sales exploded, making the company the world's biggest-seller of smartphones, according to the latest market data from Strategy Analytics.

"Samsung shipped 28 million smartphones and overtook Apple to become the world's number one smartphone vendor by volume for the first time in history," the analysts claim.

Alex Spektor, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, "Global smartphone shipments grew 44 percent annually to reach a record 117 million units in Q3 2011. Samsung shipped 28 million smartphones and overtook Apple to become the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume with 24 percent market share."

Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, "After just one quarter in the top spot, Apple slipped behind Samsung to second position and captured 15 percent share. Apple's global smartphone growth rate slowed to just 21 percent annually in Q3 2011, its lowest level for two years."

The iPhone fight-back

Of course, the period included months in which consumers anxiously awaited Apple's introduction of a new iPhone configuration, which depressed sales:

"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."

What is interesting is that Apple is expected to sell as many as 25 million iPhones during the current (fourth calendar) quarter -- this means that this Christmas season the race between Apple and Samsung for dominance of the booming industry will intensify.

Announcing its financial results this week, Samsung promised to make some aggressive moves to take on its California-based foe. These include introduction of smartphones with flexible screens in 2012.

"The flexible display, we are looking to introduce sometime in 2012, hopefully the earlier part," said spokesman Robert Yi. "The application probably will start from the handset side."

iPad is king of the tablet jungle

Apple's dominance of the tablet space continues unabated. HP's fire sale on its TouchPad will have impacted low-end sales. In another form of fire sale, Amazon's market cap took a huge fall this week on revelation of just how much cash that company is losing on each Kindle Fire it will sell.

Motorola has also failed to dent the wall of Apple's iPad sales. It sold just 100,000 Xoom tablets in 90-days, in other words it sold as many of its tablets in three months as Apple sells in a single day.

"The company shipped a total of 11.6 million mobile devices, including 4.8 million smartphones and approximately 100,000 Motorola XOOM tablets. In the third quarter of 2010, the company shipped 9.1 million mobile devices, including 3.8 million smartphones," the company said in a statement.

The tablet/smartphone games seem set to take many more twists before they reach the final countdown. Google intends acquiring Motorola Mobility, much to the chagrin of that firm's existing Android partners.

Will Microsoft and Nokia change the game?

Android's position as the de facto second fiddle to Apple's iOS also faces a new threat, as Nokia prepares to fight back to regain its lost mobile industry crown with the introduction of new breeds of Windows-based smartphones.

Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics, said: "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."

Apple meanwhile stands to see major sales of its iPhone and iPad products across the coming three months, and could conceivably knock Samsung off of its newly-acquired smartphone perch.

Apple is also expected to introduce new 4G-capable iPhones next year, hoping to capitalize on expected global deployment of the faster mobile broadband standard.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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