Apple claims leading smartphone maker title of 2011

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Apple overtakes LG as the third largest handset manufacturer in 2011 as it led the way with 19 per cent of the market

Global smartphone sales grew 58 per cent to 472 million units last year, according to research firm Gartner, with Apple leading the market with a 19 per cent share.

Smartphone sales during Q4 grew to 149 million units, a 47.3 per cent increase from the same quarter in 2010. Volumes during the quarter were driven by sales of the Apple iPhone 4S (pictured).

Apple became the third largest mobile manufacturer in the world, overtaking LG, as it also became the world’s top smartphone manufacturer, with a market share of 23.8 per cent in the quarter.

Nokia’s share of the market continued to slide last year, from 28.9 per cent in 2010 to 23.8 per cent in 23.8 per cent in 2011. Samsung continued to be Nokia’s closest rival, raising its share of the market slightly yo 17.7 per cent.

Apple’s share last year rose from 2.9 per cent in 2010 to five per cent, overtaking LG, which saw its share slip to 4.9 per cent from 7.1 per cent the previous year.

ZTE moved above RIM to become the world’s fifth largest manufacturer, growing its share from 1.9 per cent in 2010 to 3.2 per cent in 2011. RIM’s share slid 0.2 per cent to 2.9 per cent.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Apple sold 35.5 million smartphones, a 121.4 per cent increase year-on-year.

Gartner said Apple’s strong performance will continue in this quarter as availability of the iPhone 4S expands, but that Apple won’t benefit from delayed purchases as it did in Q4 2011. Gartner added it expects its sales to decline quarter-on-quarter.

After Apple, ZTE and Huawei were the fastest-growing manufacturers in Q4 2011.

ZTE moved into fourth place in the handset market in the quarter after smartphone sales increased 71 per cent sequentially.

Huawei moved in front of LG in the Android marketplace to become a top-four player, as it almost doubled sales year-on-year in Q4 to just under 14 million units.

Gartner principle research analyst Roberta Cozza said: “Western Europe and North America led most of the smartphone growth for Apple during the fourth quarter of 2011.

“In Western Europe the spike in iPhone sales in the fourth quarter saved the overall smartphone market after two consecutive quarters of slow sales.”

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