The iPhone 5 went on sale in the U.S. and several other countries on September 21. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless all offer the iPhone 5 for prices ranging from $199 to $399, depending on the amount of built-in storage. Prepaid carriers also sell the device, although often for full price (starting at $649). By the end of the first quarter, the iPhone 5 was available in most of the world's largest markets, including China. The device's success during the quarter in which it launched should not be surprising to anyone.
Perhaps more interesting than the iPhone 5's strong sales numbers are those of the iPhone 4S. Apple's 2011-era smartphone notched sales of 17.4 million units, according to Strategy Analytics. In the U.S., the iPhone 4S is being sold for just $99 with a contract. Together, sales of the iPhone 5 and 4S amounted to 44.8 million devices.
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Individually, both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S outsold the GSIII.
Samsung's Galaxy S III, which went on sale in the U.S. in June of last year, was picked up by 15.3 million people worldwide during the fourth quarter. That's a dip from the third quarter, during which Samsung sold 18 million GSIIIs and owned the best-selling-smartphone crown. As with the iPhone, the GSIII is widely available from many carriers at attractive price points.
Apple's victory over its arch nemesis Samsung may be relatively short-lived, however. Now that the iPhone 5 has been available for about 5 months, demand may begin to wane. Keep in mind, Apple's fourth-quarter iPhone 5 numbers include holiday shoppers. Additionally, Apple fans know that a new iPhone is probably only six or seven months away.
Beyond seasonal demand for the iPhone 5, Samsung is nearly ready to reveal its 2013 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S IV. Though Samsung is skipping next week's Mobile World Congress, it is pegged to debut the GSIV on or around March 14, with availability shortly thereafter.
Samsung has done an excellent job of keeping the Galaxy S IV a secret. Almost nothing is known about its size or features. It will run Android, will likely have an HD screen, and will surely include new software innovations from Samsung. Samsung has worked hard to differentiate itself from the competition with software (e.g., S Note on the Galaxy Note/Note II). Its flagship device for the year will be the best place for it to showcase such technology.
Until then, Apple and Samsung will continue to do battle on the front lines with the iPhone 5 and GSIII.
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