Samsung cements lead over Apple in global smartphone race

Samsung and Apple own almost half the worldwide smartphone market.

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    A Samsung display at a store in South Korea. Samsung dominates the global smartphone market, according to a new report.
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Forget Apple versus Android. The biggest rivalry in the smartphone world may be Apple versus specifically Samsung, the South Korean tech giant. According to a new set of figures from IDC, Apple and Samsung dominated the worldwide smartphone business in the second quarter of 2012, selling a combined 76 million handsets. To put that in perspective, approximately 156 million smartphones were shipped globally in Q2.

Apple and Samsung, in other words, own half the game. The two companies are the new "global smartphone heavyweights," Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. Here's how it breaks down: In Q2, Samsung unloaded just over 50 million smartphones, good enough for 32.6 percent of the worldwide market. Apple, on the other hand, shipped 26 million handsets and won just under 17 percent of the market. 

"Samsung employs a 'shotgun' strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high-profile models," Restivo added. "While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains."

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For Samsung, that expansion was vertiginous. IDC says the company's market share grew 172 percent from the same time last year. Apple, meanwhile, increased its share by approximately 28 percent. Unsurprisingly, everyone else is being left in the dust. Nokia had 10 percent of the market in Q2 of 2012 but it slipped almost 39 percent; HTC has almost nine percent of the market, but it's down 24 percent. 

So what's responsible for Samsung's success? Well, Samsung doesn't release precise sales figures, but Businessweek reports today that the Samsung Galaxy S3 – which sold by the bucketload in England – has likely helped sustain the company's growth. 

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