Apple CEO: Three Horses In Smartphone Race

Tim Cook says Microsoft's Windows Phone can't be counted out, but that Apple ignores rivals and focuses on innovation.
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Apple sold a lot of stuff during the last few months of 2011, according to the numbers reported in its most recent quarterly filing. The company moved 37.04 million iPhones, 15.43 million iPads, and 5.2 million Mac computers. It raked in $46.33 billion in revenue and earned $13.06 billion.

According to one researcher, Apple's fourth quarter iPhone sales were so huge that it took back first place as the most popular smartphone platform in the U.S. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Apple's portion of the U.S. market doubled from a year ago to 44.9%--edging out Google's Android platform, which fell from 50% to 44.8%.

This slightest of victories for Apple likely won't last long. Demand for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will wind down as anticipation for the iPhone 5 starts to build, and as more Android devices hit the market.

If Apple and Google are two of the horses in the race for smartphone dominance, who is the third? According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft's Windows Phone.

[ Want more insight into the smartphone market? Read Verizon: 44% Of Customers Use Smartphones. ]

"There's a horse in Redmond that always suits up and always runs, and will keep running," said Cook during Tuesday's media and analyst call. "There are other players that we can never count out. What we focus on is innovating and making the world's best products. We'll just ignore how many other horses there are. We just want stay ahead and be the lead one."

Apple is far, far ahead of Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and pretty much any other mobile OS you can name at the moment, with the exception of Android. Worldwide, Google's Android figures continue to dominate. With more than 700,000 daily device activations (twice that of the iPhone in the most recent quarter), Android will continue to gain on the competition.

It's interesting, however, that Cook called out Windows Phone as the other major competitor. At last look, Windows Phone's presence in the U.S. market was a paltry 1.2%. Android and iOS have approximately 37 times the market share of Windows Phone. RIM's BlackBerry platform has 12 times the market share of Windows Phone. There are more Palm OS and webOS devices still in circulation than there are Windows Phone devices in the U.S.

Perhaps that will change with Nokia's bet on Windows Phone. Early numbers suggest that Nokia has already shipped more than 1.3 million Lumia smartphones. The Lumia 900 is set to launch on AT&T's network later this year, and will offer a larger screen and a faster data radio than the iPhone.

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