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Samsung may be Q2's smartphone leader

Analysts estimate it may have overtaken iPhone, as well as Nokia, in second quarter sales

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 25 July, 2011

READ MORE: Metrics | Samsung | iPhone | Android

Samsung may have outstripped not just Nokia but Apple in smartphone sales, taking the top spot in the second quarter after one year of sales of its flagship Galaxy S.

The Korean firm will have a tougher challenge to cling on to its expected lead once Apple unleashes a revamped iPhone, but if Strategy Analytics' forecasts prove correct, Android will have scored a significant victory. While the Google platform has overtaken Apple iOS in certain markets, quarters and analyst calculations before, it has been as the collective base of several OEMs' handsets. This result would come far closer to a true head-to-head, with a single vendor surpassing Apple, and because Samsung's smartphone sales, like Apple's, are dominated by a single device family, Galaxy S (which sells in the US under various carrier specific brand names).

Samsung's Wave family, which runs its own Bada OS, and its Windows models, will have made a contribution too, but Galaxy is the powerhouse, with 10m sales at the start of 2011. Its new successor, Galaxy S II, will be the main defense against the 'iPhone 5' launch, expected in September.

According to Strategy Analytics' calculations, Samsung sold between 18m and 21m smartphones during the second quarter. At the higher end, this would be better than Apple's 20.3m, and would convincingly rob Nokia - with smartphone sales of 16.7m - of its lead. According to Bloomberg, the figures exclude tablets.

Samsung will announce its official figures later this month, and whether it can crow over Apple or not, it will have demonstrated remarkable progress compared to most of its longer established smartphone rivals. It aims to more than double its sales of high end handsets this year, having compensated for a slow start in the sector with the high impact launch of Galaxy S last year. The analyst firm's director Neil Mawston commented: "Samsung's Android portfolio is selling strongly in most regions. Samsung stands a reasonable chance of capturing the top spot on a quarterly basis if it can continue expanding its Android portfolio across high growth markets like China and Brazil. Samsung and Apple will be at similar levels in smartphones by the end of the year."

In the overall handset space, Samsung is predicted to narrow the gap with Nokia to its smallest ever level in 2011, taking about 20% share overall, while the Finnish giant will fall to about 26%, a long way from its traditional rate of 35% to 40% of the previous decade.

The Galaxy S II is being rolled out via 140 operators in 120 countries, in a typical Samsung 'big bang' launch. Last week it got its Chinese debut in five major cities. Apple has revealed its fear of such devices by filing lawsuits against Samsung, claiming patent infringement and that the Galaxy range "slavishly" copied designs used in the iPad and iPhone.

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