Samsung, Apple take the lead in smartphone wars

The war between Apple and Samsung has seen the two tech giants battle it out in court and in the advertising arena. The prize at stake? Smartphone dominance.

The two are already the biggest players in the field, with tech research company Juniper Research estimating that nearly 60% of the 139 million smartphones shipped worldwide carried either the Apple (35.1-million) or Samsung (46.9-million) brand. That’s a fairly substantial increase from the 46% that did so in the last three months of 2011.

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Samsung appears to be winning the sales war — having shipped 11-million more phones in the first quarter of this year than Apple — but that doesn’t mean outright victory for the South Korean Giant.

The simple fact of the matter is that Apple is still making more money than its counterpart. As Daniel Ashdown, a research analyst with Juniper Research, notes: “Apple’s revenues from its ‘mobile division’ continues to remain significantly higher than Samsung’s, even when you take into account the latter’s feature phones”

Apple’s iPhone revenue was $22.7 billion in Q1 ($29.3 billion including the iPad), compared with Samsung’s KRW18.9 trillion (~$17.0 billion) from its entire mobile division. While flagship devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy SII and Galaxy Note contribute substantial unit volumes, the company’s rise to top spot is evidence of the smartphone’s entry into mass market price points with products like the Galaxy Y.

Although Samsung and Apple have all the top pickings Juniper Research says there are still rich pickings to be had in the rest of the market, with the number of smartphones shipped set to double in the next couple of years.

The likes of HTC, Nokia, and RIM will, however have to figure out what the best strategy for the future is.

Nokia’s Lumia launches, for instance, do not appear to have kick-started a rival yet, with the Finnish company shipping just 11.9 million smart devices in the first quarter — less than half the number it shipped in the same period a year previous.

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