Samsung shipped nearly twice the number of smartphones as Apple during the second quarter, as potential buyers of Apple's phones and operators hold off purchases in anticipation of a rumored new iPhone 5 by October, research firm Strategy Analytics said late Thursday.
"What remains to be seen is how the company's smartphones will fare against Apple's next-generation iPhone expected later this year," another research firm IDC said.
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Samsung and Apple together captured over half the global market, Strategy Analytics said. Global smartphone shipments grew 32 percent annually to 146 million units in the second quarter, the slowest growth rate since the third quarter of 2009, it said.
Delivering hit models in most major price segments, Samsung shipped 50.5 million units in the quarter for a market share of 34.6 percent, while Apple shipped 26 million units for a 17.8 percent market share, after a modest 28 percent growth over the same quarter last year, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple's market share was flat compared with 18.4 percent recorded a year earlier.
The growth of Samsung and Apple has come partly at the expense of Nokia which trailed behind with shipments of 10.2 million smartphones, for a market share of 7.0 percent. Its smartphone shipments were down from 16.7 million units in the second quarter last year, Strategy Analytics said.
Nokia has launched Lumia phones based on the Windows Phone operating system, but growth in shipments of these phones has yet to make up for flagging shipments of its phones running the Symbian operating system.
Samsung's shipment of smartphones was more than double its shipment of 20.2 million smartphones in the same quarter last year.
IDC also confirmed Samsung's strong performance, though with slightly different figures. It said for example that Samsung shipped 50.2 million units, taking a 32.6 percent market share of the smartphone market, compared to Apple's shipment of 26 million for a 16.9 percent share. The quarter-over-quarter shipment decline for Apple came six months after it unveiled its latest iPhone, and is not unusual as iPhone shipment volume is highest in the first two quarters after its release, IDC said.
Apple and Samsung have patent disputes in various markets including the U.S. and Europe. A court in California has issued a preliminary injunction on U.S. sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets and Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Samsung has appealed.
Samsung reported Friday in Seoul that its sales were up 21 percent primarily because of a strong performance by its mobile phones business.
The company also led the global handsets business, shipping 93 million units in the second quarter for a 25.7 percent share, compared to Nokia's 83.7 million units for a 23 percent share, Strategy Analytics said. Apple came in third with a 7.2 percent share.
IDC has estimated Samsung's shipments higher at 97.8 million units for a market share of 24.1 percent, while giving Nokia a 20.6 percent share, and Apple a 6.4 percent share.
Global mobile phone shipments grew only 1 percent year-on-year to reach 362 million units, on account of economic conditions in mature markets like the U.S. and Europe, shifting consumer tastes, and tighter operator upgrade policies, Strategy Analytics said. IDC's estimate of total shipments of mobile phones in the second quarter was 406 million units.
Nokia's feature phone volumes showed single-digit annual growth, helped by its expanding portfolio of dual-SIM and Asha models for emerging markets, but its global handset shipments continued to decline, though at a lesser rate of 5 percent year-on-year.
ZTE and LG were the other key players in the handset market, the research firms said.