Samsung’s Sales Surge Continues

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Data released last week showed that Samsung passed Nokia (NYSE: NOK) as the top handset maker in the world. Just as impressive, in the high-end smartphone sector, Samsung moved ahead of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). The success has been attributed to Samsung’s design prowess and the fact that it has been more adroit at implementing the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile OS than its competition has been.

Samsung’s sales surge has quickened in the United States. America is no longer the largest handset market in the world. China has that distinction. But U.S. consumers have a voracious appetite for smartphones, fueled by the rise of 4G ultrafast networks and legions of apps built for the iPhone and Android-powered products.

New comScore data show that Samsung’s U.S. market share hit 26% for the three months that ended in March, up 0.7% from the previous three months. Downscale handset firm LG was second. Apple did better than the balance of the large manufacturers, likely because of brisk sales of the new iPhone 4S. Its share of the U.S. market rose to 14% in the most recent quarter from 12.4% in the previous quarter.

The change in market share of mobile operating systems demonstrates why Samsung made a good choice with Android. Or it may show that Samsung’s choice and success has pulled Android along with it. Android’s market share was 51% of the U.S. market in the March quarter, compared to 47.3% in the quarter before. Apple had a 30% OS share.

There can be a long debate about whether Android helped Samsung or Samsung helped Android. There may never be a way to settle that argument. What is certain is that this combination of hardware and software has taken the U.S. market by storm.

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Mar. 2012 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Dec. 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Dec-11 Mar-12 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 47.3% 51.0% 3.7
Apple 29.6% 30.7% 1.1
RIM 16.0% 12.3% -3.7
Microsoft 4.7% 3.9% -0.8
Symbian 1.4% 1.4% 0.0

Douglas A. McIntyre