Samsung Electronics Co. overtook Apple Inc. in the last quarter to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor amid a widening technology and legal battle between the two companies.
Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones in the last quarter, taking 23.8 percent of the market, Milton Keynes, U.K.- based Strategy Analytics said in an e-mailed statement today. Apple’s 17.1 million shipments, comprising 14.6 percent of the market, pushed the Cupertino, California-based company to second place. Nokia Oyj maintained its third position, it said.
Apple, which released its iPhone 4S this month, held the top spot for only one quarter after dislodging Espoo, Finland-based Nokia earlier this year. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, has turned to Google Inc.’s Android software to boost sales of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.
“Samsung has come out with products that appeal to all the different form factors and specifications out there,” said T.Z. Wong, a Beijing-based analyst at researcher IDC. “That is a strategy they have executed very well.”
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, wasn’t immediately available for comment after normal business hours. Nam Ki Yung, a Seoul-based spokesman for Samsung, declined to comment on the research company’s estimate.
“Samsung’s rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution,” Strategy Analytics wrote. “Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem.”
The global smartphone market climbed 44 percent from a year earlier to 117 million units, Strategy Analytics said. Nokia dropped to 14.4 percent from 32.7 percent a year earlier.
In the wider mobile-phone market that includes lower-cost devices, Nokia maintained its top spot even after losing 5 percentage points of share, the researcher said in a separate statement. Its 27.3 percent kept it ahead of Samsung’s 22.6 percent, with LG Electronics Inc. third.
Chinese phone maker ZTE Corp.’s cheaper handsets helped it take 4.7 percent and overtake Apple for fourth place. Global market shipments climbed 14 percent to 390 million units, according to the researcher.
Samsung, also the world’s largest manufacturer of televisions, today reported record revenue from its phone division that helped mask a slump in earnings from computer-memory chips and panels.
Samsung rose 2.3 percent to 945,000 won at the close of trading in Seoul today. The shares have declined 0.4 percent this year, compared with a 25 percent jump for Apple.
Apple and Samsung have accused each other of infringing patents for technology used in handsets and tablets, with court cases still pending in Milan and Sydney. Legal battles between the two companies intensified after Apple claimed in an April lawsuit in the U.S. that Samsung’s Galaxy devices “slavishly” copied the iPhone and the iPad.
Apple’s profit last quarter missed analysts’ estimates for the first time in at least six years after customers delayed handset purchases in anticipation of its new phone. Sales of the new model, iPhone 4S, surpassed 4 million in the first weekend of sales that began Oct. 14, topping Apple’s previous sales record for its handsets.
Samsung and Nokia also released new handsets this month as consumers increasingly use mobile phones to surf the Internet, play videos and access social-networking sites.
Samsung and Google pit the talk-to-type technology of Android Ice Cream Sandwich against Apple’s Siri voice-command digital assistant. Nokia, which has a partnership with Microsoft Corp., this week unveiled its Windows-based handset called Lumia 800.