SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple Inc.’s record 37 million iPhones sold in the last quarter of 2011 made the company the world’s leading smartphone vendor in that quarter, edging out rival Samsung Electronics Co., an analysis firm reports.
Samsung sold 36.5 million smartphones in the final three months of 2011, Strategy Analytics reported, slightly fewer than Apple. Those sales figures gave Apple 23.9 percent of the market and Samsung 23.5 percent in the quarter.
The quarter was the biggest ever for smartphone sales, which totaled 155 million. In all of 2011, nearly half a billion smartphones — 488 million — were sold worldwide, another record.
Apple didn’t overtake its rival in Strategy’s yearly figures, as Samsung sold 97.4 million smartphones, topping Apple’s 2011 total of 93 million.
“With global smartphone shipments nearing half a billion units in 2011, Samsung is now well-positioned alongside Apple in a two-horse race at the forefront of one of the world’s largest and most-valuable consumer-electronics markets,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in the company’s news release.
Apple has sued Samsung in several countries, alleging that the South Korean company’s devices, which are powered by Google’s Android operating system, infringe on patents held by Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif.
Meanwhile, Samsung commercials for its Galaxy line of smartphones poke fun at Apple and its fans.
Finishing third in both full-year and quarterly sales was 2010’s leader, Nokia, Strategy reported.
Apple’s sales boom at the end of 2011 also helped its mobile operating system, iOS, overtake Android as the dominant mobile operating system for smartphones in the U.S. in the fourth quarter, an earlier report said. Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported on Wednesday that Apple’s share of the U.S. market reached 44.9 percent in the quarter, a fingernail ahead of Android’s 44.8 percent.