Apple Now the World’s Largest Smartphone Maker

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Gartner recently released a report naming Apple the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. The iPhone made up 23.8 percent of all smartphone sales in Q4 of 2011, selling 35.5 million phones. It was the most phones Apple ever sold in a quarter. This makes Apple the third largest mobile phone vendor in the world at 5 percent market share, up from 2.9 percent in 2010.

“Western Europe and North America led most of the smartphone growth for Apple during the fourth quarter of 2011,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “In Western Europe the spike in iPhone sales in the fourth quarter saved the overall smartphone market after two consecutive quarters of slow sales.”

The analysts noted that sales of the iPhone helped save the smartphone market overall, after two quarters of declining sales. Smartphone sales overall totaled 149 million units in the Q4 of 2011, a 47.3 percent increase over a year ago. Smartphones now account for one third of all mobile phone sales worldwide.

The report did note that Apple’s success this past year was unusual mainly due to consumer demand for the recently released iPhone4S.

Nokia continues to be the world’s number one manufacturer of mobile phones, including feature phones as well as smartphones, though it has witnessed its global share shrink. Its global market share stood at 23.8 percent for 2011, down from 28.9 percent in 2010.

Samsung, the number two phone maker, increased its share to 17.7 percent, up from 17.6 percent the previous year.

Both Nokia and Samsung specialize in less expensive devices than the iPhone, which accounts for the companies taking first and second place in the mobile phone market.