Apple Hits New High with 8.8% of Worldwide Mobile Phone Market in 1Q 2012

Research firm IDC today released its estimates of global mobile phone and smartphone shipments for the first quarter 2012, revealing that Apple set a record high in taking 8.8% of the overall mobile phone market. The performance just barely topped Apple's 8.7% share in the previous quarter, which was the launch quarter for the iPhone 4S.

idc 1Q12 phones
Worldwide Mobile Phone Shipments in 1Q12 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)

Apple's year-over-year growth of 88% in an overall market which shrank by 1.5% enabled the iPhone maker to solidify its hold on third place in the overall mobile phone market behind Samsung and Nokia. Nokia had been the market leader for well over a decade, but Samsung surged into the lead for the first time during the quarter.

idc 1Q12 smartphones
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments in 1Q12 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)

Looking at the narrower smartphone market, which now comprises 36% of the global mobile phone market, IDC pegs Apple in second place, with its 88% year-over-year growth easily topping the overall segment's growth of 42.5%. But Apple's growth was easily overshadowed by Samsung, which rode the strength of its portfolio of Android-based devices to year-over-year growth of 267% and the top spot in the smartphone rankings.

"The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched."

Samsung's shipment numbers suffer from significant uncertainty, however, as the company no longer releases official data on its sales for competitive reasons. Consequently, analysts have had to resort to rough estimates for Samsung's numbers, and IDC believes that Samsung registered 42.2 million smartphone shipments to easily top Apple's publicly-released number of 35.1 million units.

Research firm Strategy Analytics last week offered a similar estimate of Samsung's shipments at 44.5 million units for the quarter, but IHS iSuppli painted a very different picture with its estimate of only 32 million smartphone units for Samsung, which would have left Apple atop the rankings for the quarter.

Top Rated Comments

inkswamp Avatar
127 months ago
Thats because the others haven't implemented their own version of 'Apple Tax'
I love simplistic analysis.

No, it's because Apple isn't flooding the market with 50+ phones every year. They aim for one design with a couple variations in color and storage space and that's it. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out how that's a lot cheaper than Samsung's throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
127 months ago
Thats because the others haven't implemented their own version of 'Apple Tax'

That's because others don't have phones that aren't sold on price only.

Seriously, what is this "Apple Tax" supposed to be? Apple offers products for a price that they decide. Nobody forces anyone to pay that price. If Apple sells products then it is because people think they are worth it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sensation Avatar
127 months ago
Wow Samsung is dominating, I imagine when the SGS3 comes out their share will shoot up even further!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bushido Avatar
127 months ago


No, it's because Apple isn't flooding the market with 50+ phones every year. They aim for one design with a couple variations in color and storage space and that's it. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out how that's a lot cheaper than Samsung's throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach.
and how is that bad? its just a different approach, not everyone needs a 300 Euro phone. im not necessarily fond of android or the samsung plastic crap but that doesnt mean their business strategy is bad. they have their high budget Galaxy and nexus phones for tech freaks as well as low budget phones for people like my mother.

both apple and samsung make enough money so why should i even care anyway ^^ having options is GREAT

oh and the anticipation for the Galaxy S III announcement here in germany is HUGE. its covered everywhere even with so little details out. something i used to only see with future iPhone gossip
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StealthGhost Avatar
127 months ago
I love simplistic analysis.

No, it's because Apple isn't flooding the market with 50+ phones every year. They aim for one design with a couple variations in color and storage space and that's it. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out how that's a lot cheaper than Samsung's throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach.
I love how often the availability of choice is somehow a bad thing on these forums.

Seems to be working great for Samsung btw. I bet the Android manufacturers love that Apple doesn't want to compete in LTE/4g, in larger screen sizes, in physical keyboards, in huge batteries, etc.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sabenth Avatar
127 months ago
having used an android phone and got the 4s i have to say i prefer apples products over all these android systems. I am not really interested in who is the market leader what i am interested in is a product that works is simple to use and not to much mucking around to find things and how to turn things of.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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