Apple surges past Samsung to top of US mobile phone market

Apple grabbed 34 percent of US mobile phone shipments in fourth quarter

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has overtaken Samsung as the top mobile phone vendor in the United States for the first time, according to the latest data from Strategy Analytics.

Apple grabbed 34 percent of the U.S. mobile phone market in the fourth quarter, compared to Samsung's 32 percent market share. Samsung had held the top spot since 2008. LG came in a distant third with 9 percent of the U.S. mobile phone market, according to data presented in the research firm's blog.

Strategy Analytics estimated that Apple shipped 17.7 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter. This was up sharply from 12.8 million units shipped in the same quarter last year. The research firm attributed Apple's success to its ecosystem of iPhones and the App Store, carrier subsidies, as well as marketing around the new iPhone 5 model.

Samsung shipped 16.8 million mobile phones in the U.S. during the fourth quarter.  This boosted its market share 5 percentage points from 27 percent a year earlier, but the Korean firm could not hold off a surging Apple.

Strategy Analytics also said that LG struggled to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone category in 2012, but noted that it is launching new models like the Optimus G 4G LTE with Android to try and regain market share.

Overall, mobile phone shipments grew 4 percent year-over-year, reaching 52 million in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2012. Strategy Analytics attributed the growth to demand for 4G smartphones and 3G feature phones.

The U.S. mobile phone market had previously contracted 16 percent for the first three quarters of 2012 due to economic uncertainty and tighter carrier upgrade policies. For the year, U.S. mobile phone shipments fell 11 percent to 166.9 million.

For more:
- check out the Strategy Analytics' blog

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