Researcher: Samsung beats Apple in Q3 smartphone sales

New models and Apple's iPhone product transition from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S allowed Samsung to take the top position in smartphone market share in the third quarter, according to estimates by research firm Strategy Analytics. The firm estimated that Samsung had a 24 percent share of the global smartphone market to Apple’s 15 percent.

Strategy Analytics estimated that Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones in the third quarter, up from 7.5 million units in the same quarter last year, while Apple reported sales of 17.1 million units as customers and operators waited for the fourth-quarter launch of the iPhone 4S.

(These numbers may not be comparable, however—Strategy Analytics bases its numbers on an estimate of how many phones were shipped into the sales channel in a given quarter, while Apple says its number specifically refers to sales to consumers. It's unclear how many units Samsung actually sold to consumers during the quarter.)

Overall global smartphone shipments grew 44 percent annually to reach a record 117 million units in the third quarter, Strategy Analytics said.

Apple launched the iPhone 4S on Oct. 14, and said it had sold over four million units in just three days after the launch. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed on Oct. 18 that this quarter would set an all-time record for iPhone sales.

[Macworld editors contributed to this story, which was updated 4:03 p.m. with additional information about how Apple defines sales figures.]

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