Apple took over the top spot in the fourth quarter. But its victory probably won't last long.
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The smartphone battle royale between Apple and Samsung had a new victor during the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple shipped 17.7 million smartphones and Samsung shipped 16.8 mobile phones.
In fact, Apple shipped more phones than any other company in the U.S. in the last three months of the year, edging out even feature phone makers. All of Apple's 17.7 million devices were smartphones, but not all of Samsung's 16.8 million devices were. Some of them were feature phones.
"Apple has become the number one mobile phone vendor by volume in the United States for the first time ever," said Strategy Analytics. "Apple's success has been driven by its popular ecosystem of iPhones and App Store, generous carrier subsidies and extensive marketing around the new iPhone 5 model."
Apple's iPhones achieved 34% of the U.S. mobile phone market during the fourth quarter. Samsung, with its various Galaxy-branded smartphones, reached 32% of the U.S. mobile phone market.
Surprisingly, LG was the third-largest phone maker in the U.S. by volume during the fourth quarter. Strategy Analytics estimated that LG shipped 4.7 million mobile phones, winning 9% of the market. That's down from 6.9 million units and its 14% share last year.
LG fielded some worthy opponents to the iPhone and Galaxy S III / Note 2 during the fourth quarter. The Optimus G, sold by AT&T and Sprint in the U.S., is a solid device, and the basis for the Nexus 4, which also went on sale during the fourth quarter. The bulk of LG's sales, however, were likely its many mid-range Android smartphones.
In total, Strategy Analytics says U.S. mobile phone shipments grew 4% year-over-year to reach 52 million during the fourth quarter.
Don't feel bad for Samsung, though. It has plenty in store for 2013, and is preparing its latest salvo against Apple. Samsung released a teaser spot for a commercial it will air during The Big Game on Sunday. Here's the spot:
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