Samsung sold more than 97 million mobile phones in the third quarter, besting Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iPhone by more than 74 million units. According to Gartner (NYSE: IT ), nearly 428 million mobile phones were sold during the quarter. Approximately 23.5 million of those phones were manufactured by Apple -- 97.9 million were made by Samsung.
To be fair, these totals include all mobile phones, not just smartphones. If one were to eliminate the so-called feature phones (standard devices that do not contain any of the high-end elements, such as apps and Web surfing, which are present in smartphones), Samsung's numbers would not be nearly as high. But when Apple entered the cellular device industry, it chose to develop a high-end product. The price may have fallen for older models, but the iPhone is still an expensive device with hefty carrier fees.
Samsung has taken a different approach. The South Korean manufacturer produces a plethora of phones for a wide variety of markets all over the world. On its U.S. website , consumers will find 178 different phones for AT&T (NYSE: T ), Verizon (NYSE: VZ ), Sprint (NYSE: S ), T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and other carriers. On Apple.com , consumers will see three phones for only three carriers. Pre-paid service companies, such as Virgin Mobile and Leap Wireless' (NASDAQ: LEAP ) Cricket Communications, also offer the iPhone. But Apple's reach is nowhere near that of its competitors, particularly Samsung.
"After two consecutive quarter[s] of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a company release . "In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter."
While Apple and Samsung will continue competing for as long as the two are in business, it seems that their patent dispute will go on as well. Earlier today, a Samsung executive reportedly said that the company has no plans to negotiate a deal similar to the one announced by HTC.
Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) still ranks second in overall mobile phone sales, moving 82 million units worldwide. But the company dropped to seventh place (down from third) in smartphone sales. This decline occurred before the arrival of the highly anticipated Lumia 920 , which was released this month. The Lumia 920 uses Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) brand-new mobile phone platform, Windows Phone 8.
During the third quarter, more than 122 million Android smartphones were sold worldwide. iOS sales were limited by he number of new iPhone users since it is not available on any other mobile platform. (Gartner's research focused exclusively on phones; tablets and other devices were excluded.) Thus, new iOS phone sales were the same as new iPhone sales -- 23.5 million.
Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM ) BlackBerry OS was adopted by 8.9 million new users, followed by Bada (five million new users) and Symbian (4.4 million). Windows Phone came in last place with just four million new users. These sales could be attributed to anticipation for Windows Phone 8, which shipped worldwide on October 26. Consumers may have been waiting to purchase a phone until the new OS was released.
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