An Associated Press story in The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week that Samsung has surpassed Apple as the world's leading smartphone maker. Apple sold 17.1 million iPhones in the third quarter. Samsung is estimated to have sold more than 27 million, the story says. That result is precisely what Apple was (and still is, no doubt) hoping to hinder with the patent battle that continues over technology used in the iPhone, the iPad and in Samsung's Galaxy line of products.
It's a significant win, to be sure, but as the AP points out, one quarter's numbers don't tell the whole story. There are several things to consider. First, Apple's smartphone offerings for the quarter consisted of two iterations of iPhone - the 3G and 4. Samsung, on the other hand, offered nearly 40 different models, including the Galaxy, Conquer, Indulge and Focus lines, just to name a few. Our Rob Enderle also offers an explanation for why the market share numbers can't be trusted.
Moreover, many Apple customers who would have purchased iPhones in the third quarter waited until the latest offering, the iPhone 4S, was released in the first part of the fourth quarter. As such, the 4 million devices sold in the first weekend following its release were not included in the third quarter numbers. So it's not as though the Galaxy beat the iPhone.
But, IHS research analyst Francis Sideco told the AP, "While [Apple customers] are doing their normal thing, Samsung is going strong ... [with] a really good quarter."
It will be interesting to see if the trend continues and how it impacts the battle between the two companies in court.