Fierce rivals but close business partners Apple and Samsung squared off this week in one more episode of their massive duel, as each company reported financial results for the Christmas quarter. Apple was expected to post stellar results and record iPhone sales (which it did), with Samsung supposed to acknowledge yet another quarterly loss (which it did). Most interestingly though, some people said Apple might overtake Samsung as the world’s top smartphone vendor for the quarter, something that hasn’t happened in years.
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From the looks of it, Apple appears to have won the battle — even though it doesn’t really matter, since the iPhone maker has never chased market share.
But with 74.5 million iPhones sold during the Christmas quarter, the majority of which were iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units, Apple appears to have taken the crown from Samsung.
The result isn’t completely clear because Samsung is not willing to acknowledge defeat. In fact, the company only said that during the December quarter it sold 95 million total phones, with smartphones amounting for a “high 70 percent” range. That means Samsung sold anywhere from 71 million to 75 million handsets, close to Apple’s 74.5 million mark.
Apple also might be the winner of the Christmas quarter when looking at data from research firms. Counterpoint Research says that Samsung sold 73.8 million smartphones during the period, but Strategy Analytics says Samsung shipments came in at 74.5 million, which is conveniently the exact number Apple reported earlier this week.
Overall, Samsung shipped the most smartphones in 2014, selling 316.6 million units according to Counterpoint Research, or 317.2 million according to Strategy Analytics. Comparatively, Apple sold 192.7 million iPhones during the period.
Regardless of whether Apple has taken the No. 1 smartphone vendor spot for the Christmas quarter or not, the iPhone maker is still the most profitable smartphone maker ever, a crown Samsung has yet to steal. Most interestingly, Apple managed to pull an even more impressive trick with the iPhone 6 launch, and that’s convincing buyers to pay even more money for a device that many people already say is too expensive.
Graphics from Counterpoint Research and Strategy Analytics showing smartphone sales for Q4 2014, and the whole year, follow below.