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Samsung is in record-breaking form. According to tech research company IDC, the South Korean electronics giant consolidated its place at the top of the smartphone pile with a record-breaking Q4 and 2012 over all.
As the mobile phone market in general flattens (it declined 0.2% over the whole of 2012), Samsung has been able to take advantage of the increased demand for smartphones. In the fourth quarter of 2012 it reportedly shipped a record 63.7-million smartphones, helping it to a total of 216-million for the year.
IDC reckons that the company’s “broad and deep line-up of Android smartphones”, particularly the Galaxy-branded Android family, along with steady demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphones helped push its record shipments in 2012.
While entry-level and mid-range smartphones are the engine driving Samsung’s success, it would probably be more interested in whether it managed to steal any market share off arch rival Apple. Unfortunately IDC’s data doesn’t really go into that much detail.
What it does show however is that while the Cupertino-based giant shipped way more smartphones, it lost market share. In Q4 2011, Apple could lay claim to 23% of the market. A year later, that number was down 21.8%. Apple is still making good smartphones, so what’s going down? Well, in part it’s down to the fact that it’s no longer the only company making good, well-designed smartphones. A larger factor however, is that the smartphone market is growing from the bottom, meaning that there’s an increased demand for entry-level devices, not exactly Apple’s specialty.
Another interesting revelation is that Huawei was in the top three manufacturers in the world in Q4 — a first for the Chinese company. As IDC notes, Huawei has courted both the mass market with its simple and inexpensive smartphones and the high-end of the market with its Ascend-branded product line. It’s also shown that hasn’t been afraid to innovate. Releasing the world’s thinnest (6.68 mm) smartphone last year, the Ascend P1, and its announcement of the upcoming Ascend Mate, the first smartphone with a 6.1-inch display are all examples of this. At the same time, Huawei has brought its own software innovations, including Magic Touch, Guiding Wizard, Smart Reading, and Floating Windows.
Despite Nokia’s “solid” Q4, there’s no space for it on the list. RIM also missed out in Q4, although it will be hoping that BlackBerry 10 can provide it with a return to the form that once had it at the top of the global smartphone heap.