Apple tops Samsung, becomes largest mobile phone vendor in U.S. in Q4 2012

“According to our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, mobile phone shipments grew 4 percent annually to reach 52 million units in the United States during the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple became the number one mobile phone vendor for the first time ever, capturing a record 34 percent market share,” Neil Mawston reports for Strategy Analytics.

“Mobile phone shipments grew 4 percent annually from 50.2 million units in Q4 2011 to 52.0 million in the United States in Q4 2012. The growth was driven by robust demand among consumers for 4G smartphones and 3G feature phones,” Mawston reports. “However, despite a solid fourth-quarter performance, the US mobile phone market had previously contracted 16 percent for the first three quarters of 2012 due to economic uncertainty and tighter carrier upgrade policies. As a result, US mobile phone shipments fell 11 percent from 186.8 million units in 2011 to 166.9 million in 2012.”

“We estimate Apple shipped 17.7 million mobile phones for a record 34 percent share of the United States market in the fourth quarter of 2012. This was up sharply from 12.8 million units shipped and 25 percent share in Q4 2011,” Mawston reports. “Apple has become the number one mobile phone vendor by volume in the United States for the first time ever.”

United States Mobile Phone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q4 2012
Strategy Analytics: United States Mobile Phone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q4 2012
Numbers are rounded. The “mobile phone” market refers to the grand total of all smartphone shipments and all feature phone shipments combined.

“Apple’s success has been driven by its popular ecosystem of iPhones and App Store, generous carrier subsidies, and extensive marketing around the new iPhone 5 model,” Mawston reports. “Samsung shipped 16.8 million mobile phones in the United States, for 32 percent share, during Q4 2012. This was a good performance from Samsung, as its market share rose 5 points from 27 percent a year earlier, but it was not enough to hold off a surging Apple. Samsung had been the number one mobile phone vendor in the US since 2008…”

Mawston reports, “LG remains the third largest player in the US mobile phone market. We estimate LG shipped 4.7 million mobile phones for 9 percent share of the United States market in Q4 2012, dipping from 6.9 million units and 14 percent share a year earlier.”

Source: Strategy Analytics

MacDailyNews Take: It’s only right that the company that created the modern smartphone is #1, instead of some slavish copier.


  1. Apple overtakes Samsung as top U.S. mobile phone vendor for first time in Q4 2012??

    Soon there will be headline “this news shows Apple faces limited growth as it overtakes Samsung , APPLE DIVED 7% today!!!!!!!!!!!”

    1. Oh, it has already started. Headline in The Street: “Apple Beats Samsung…For Now.” At this writing the Dow is up nearly $120 and Apple is down $5. Reminds me of the old farmer’s saying attributed to various varmints — and applicable to too many financial analysts and reporters: “If he can’t fight it or fsck it, he pisses on it to ruin it for the rest of us.”

  2. Apple’s success has been driven by generous carrier subsidy and extensive marketing. No company spends more on marketing than Samedung, yet we are led to believe that this is the reason for Apple’s success. Could it instead be because they have a better product? Does this report sound biased to anyone else?

  3. Barely, by less than 1% units sold and 2% market share. For the year of 2012 Samsung beats Apple by 10% units sold and 5% market share. So nothing worth showing off about yet. If Apple can get at a 10% to 30% lead and maintain it, that would be worth paying attention to.

  4. WTF! And just when I thought Apple was ready to leave the smartphone business due to lack of iPhone demand. Just a week or two ago, there were at least a dozen articles chirping about how Apple had fallen well behind even third-rate LG. No matter. Everyone is convinced that all subsidies will end sometime this year and Apple will be left high and dry without their main revenue stream. I’ve already put my flag at half-mast because Wall Street spends all their time looking into the future and Apple is always at the top of the Death Watch list.


    1. If they could have kept Apple out of the top spot, they would have.

      Watch the wording: 34 percent share of “mobile phones” “shipped”
      • “mobile phones” not the higher number if only counting the smart phones.
      • “shipped” not sold (Shipped is not sold and Buy 1 get 1 free is 2? Do you count the spare tire in your car as a 5 wheel vehicle or 4 wheel vehicle?)

  5. See. None of this matters. Wall Street is looking at tomorrow. Not yesterday or last quarter or certainly not last year. What they see ahead for Apple is well… not much. They don’t see anything like what they used to see. Or, what they see at Amazon for instance. They see Tim Cook. That’s why AAPL is a $400 stock and nothing more.

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