Apple Passes LG to Become World's Third Largest Mobile Phone Manufacturer

Research firm IDC today released its estimates of global mobile phone sales for the fourth quarter of and full-year 2011, finding Apple moving past LG to claim third place in the rankings for the first time. Apple was rapidly closing on LG by mid-2010, but fell back into fifth place behind ZTE during the third quarter as customers held off in anticipation of new iPhone hardware. The strong surge from the iPhone 4S launch was then enough for Apple to move up in the year's final quarter and by a large enough margin that it was able pass LG in full-year numbers as well.

idc 4Q11 phones
Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales in 4Q11 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)

While Apple has been estimated to be neck-and-neck with Samsung for the crown of top smartphone manufacturer, Nokia and Samsung firmly hold down the top two spots in the overall mobile phone rankings on the volume of their lower-end feature phones.

Apple jumped into the third spot globally from the fifth spot last quarter thanks to a record-breaking quarter of shipments. That represents the Cupertino-based company's highest-ever ranking on IDC's Top 5 global mobile phone leaderboard. The launch of Apple's iPhone 4S smartphone, which is now available in over 90 countries (as of mid-January), was the primary reason the company leapt over LG and ZTE in 4Q11. Device sales in the U.S. and Japan were particularly strong given extra sales days in the quarter and carrier distribution.

Apple's share of the market hit 8.7% in the fourth quarter and registered at 6.0% for the full year. Steve Jobs famously noted during the iPhone's 2007 introduction that Apple was shooting to take 1% of the massive overall mobile phone market, and the company has clearly exceeded that goal and can now set its sights on a 10% quarterly share during the next spike in sales.

idc 2011 phones
Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales in 2011 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)

One year ago, Apple ranked fifth in both fourth quarter and full-year sales for 2010, but by nearly doubling its sales year-over-year Apple was able to overtake both ZTE and LG to move into third place.

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Top Rated Comments

ECUpirate44 Avatar
162 months ago
i tH0uGhT tH4t aPpl3 w4s teH #1?

When was the last time you said something of substance on this forum?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fermat-au Avatar
162 months ago
Interestingly the the top vendor is "Other". I regard this as a positive, no single corporation controls the market, this is good for innovation. That said, I would have liked to see more manufactures listed rather than be included in "other".
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
*LTD* Avatar
162 months ago
Apple fan boys told me that market percentage doesn't matter.
It doesn't. That's why this is so damn impressive.

All Jobs was gunning for was 1% of the total market, in typical Apple fashion. And look where they are today.

And keep in mind this is all with, at most, three phones (all under the same roof), running an unlicensed OS.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DakotaGuy Avatar
162 months ago
Well personally I am still impressed with the performance of Others. I see Others is still winning the sales race!:D
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
slrandall Avatar
162 months ago
Good lord, those year-over-year numbers are ridiculous. Especially because Apple's not exactly a newcomer anymore.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DakotaGuy Avatar
162 months ago
Yeah, the scrubs are running a different race, the only one open to them. It's unfortunate.

It was supposed to be a joke...

With that said why is it unfortunate? Competition breeds innovation. Most people like having healthy competition that drives the market forward. There are very few that actually wish Apple had 100% marketshare and everyone was forced to buy the same exact phone. You might be the exception to that, but most like choice.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)