The smartphone war has become more of a two horse race with Android (Samsung) taking on iOS (Apple)

The Interactive Data Corp. (IDC), one of the top market research firms in the U.S., has just released its latest smartphone numbers and they offer few surprises.

The losers -- struggling Taiwanese Android phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), languishing Symbian-cum-Windows Phone Finnish phonemaker Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), and embattled Canadian BlackBerry producer Research in Motion ltd. (TSE:RIM) -- all plummeted in sales.

Of them, Nokia dropped the most, seeing the phase out of Symbian cost it dearly.  The IDC claims that Nokia's Q1 2012 sales were at about one-third of its Q1 2011 levels -- a shocking fall.  RIM's sales fell a little bit more than in half, while HTC saw its sales fall almost in half.

The winners also don't exactly surprise.  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in Q1 2012 claimed 24.2 percent of smartphone sales, up nearly a third from its 18.3 percent market share in Q1 2011.  That's an impressive recovery for a company whose Q3 2011 sales had slid beneath 15 percent by IDC's estimates.

Chart: Top Five WW Smartphone Vendors, 1Q 2012, Five Quarter Market Share Changes (Units)Description: Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, May 1, 2012Note: Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 54 countries by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or For more information about this tracker go to: IDC, Tracker, Mobile Phone, Mobile Phones, Mobile Phone Tracker, 1Q201 ...Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) clung to the top spot, holding off a surging Apple.  Like Reuters, the IDC believes Samsung outsold Apple in the last calendar quarter.  That leaves iSuppli in the vocal minority claiming Apple outsold Samsung for the quarter.

Unlike Apple and Nokia, Samsung does not publish quarterly figures on the number of smartphones it sold, so its exact smartphone sales are open to debate.

The IDC puts Samsung's Q1 2012 market share at 29.1 percent, approximately five percent head of Apple.  Clearly that isn't the kind of commanding lead Samsung would hope for, but it can hardly bemoan its fate as the world's top smartphone seller.  Nor can Apple bemoan is close second-place finish, not when it's pulling in over $10B USD in pure profit per quarter.

The report confirms Samsung and Nokia's published numbers for total phone sales (including feature phones).  Samsung is now leading Nokia by about 10 million units in total phone sales, and is on pace for its first 400 million unit year.  Both Samsung and Nokia saw slumps in feature phone sales as the market moves towards smartphone ubiquity.

Q1 2012

China's ZTE Corp. (SHE:000063) posted the biggest gain in total mobile sales aside from Samsung and Apple.  The rising star is looking to parlay its feature phone success into smartphone sales, with its expanding lineup of Android and Windows Phone handsets.  It perhaps is the sleeper to watch in an otherwise predictable 2012.

Source: IDC

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