Samsung Hits Apple iPhone Sales with Crippling Blow, Lenovo Runs Distant Third

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For those who believe that Samsung has beaten Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) handily in the global smartphone war, now there is more evidence that is so. Outside whatever court battles the two companies have engaging in over patents and design, where it counts — with the consumer — the iPhone is no longer the dominant smartphone and never will be again.

Samsung and Apple do share one advantage, which is the rotation in handset sales to smartphones. According to a new Gartner report on mobile phone sales:

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 455.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 5.7 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner, Inc. Sales of smartphones accounted for 55 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2013, and reached their highest share to date.

Those experts who believed that Apple’s iPhone should have continued success because it helped build the smartphone industry when the product was introduced in 2007 have to wrestle with Samsung’s ability to ape the iPhone and, in some cases, improve on its design and sets of features. Samsung’s strength in these capacities shows no sign of slowing.

In the third quarter, Samsung sold 80.4 million smartphones. Apple was not even close with sales of 30.3 million. Market share made the extent of the disaster clearer. Apple’s has dropped to 12.1%. Lenovo poses a threat to Apple as its sales nearly doubled to 12.9 million. At that rate, it could move close to catching Apple next year. Apple’s advantage is the Samsung has no market share in the United States — yet.

The driver of Samsung’s success largely is the wild popularity of Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android OS. It has been adopted as the primary operating system for all the world’s largest smartphone companies. Apple’s iOS market share is the same as its smartphone share. Android’s global share, on the other hand, reached 81.9%, an overwhelming advantage.

The conventional wisdom about the smartphone market is that Apple’s loss of the top position is gone forever. That leaves a company, the market value of which was built on innovation, expected to carry it to the top of the sector and keep it there with a promise it can no longer possibly fulfill.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 3Q13 (Thousands of Units)

Company

3Q13

Units

3Q13 Market Share (%)

3Q12

Units

3Q12 Market Share (%)

Samsung

80,356.8

32.1

55,054.2

32.1

Apple

30,330.0

12.1

24,620.3

14.3

Lenovo

12,882.0

5.1

6,981.0

4.1

LG Electronics

12,055.4

4.8

6,986.1

4.1

Huawei

11665.7

4.7

7,804.3

4.5

Others

102941.8

41.1

70206.8

40.9

Total

250,231.7

100.0

171,652.7

100.0

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