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iPhone 4S remains best-seller at top three carriers in December

Apple’s latest iPhone propelled what analysts are predicting will be Apple’s biggest-ever quarter, and the handset ended the year with strong holiday sales, maintaining its position as the best-selling smartphone at Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint. Checks performed by Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley and his team indicate that smartphone sales in December were strong, with Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S II sell-through continuing to lead all other smartphones in the U.S. Read on for more.

Apple’s iPhone 4S was the best-selling smartphone at Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint last month according to Walkley. Samsung’s Galaxy S II handsets held the No.2 spot at both AT&T and Sprint while the Galaxy Nexus was the second most popular smartphone at Verizon Wireless in December. Verizon Wireless revealed earlier this week that it sold 4.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter.

The Galaxy S II was the best-selling smartphone at T-Mobile last month — T-Mobile does not currently offer Apple’s iPhone — followed by the HTC Amaze 4G and the Windows Phone-powered HTC Radar 4G.

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“Our December checks indicated iPhone sales remained strong in the U.S., and we forecast total iPhone sales of over 12M units in the U.S. market for the December quarter,” Walkley wrote in a research note on Friday. “Further, our checks indicated strong global share gains with iPhone 4S launching in new markets including Brazil and Russia during December and set to launch in China and other markets in January. In addition, our checks indicated iPad 2 remains the top-selling global tablet with Amazon’s Kindle Fire the closest competitor due to its materially lower price.”

As Apple and Samsung continued to dominate the U.S. smartphone market, Canaccord’s checks indicated that RIM and HTC both lost market share last month. “Our December checks indicated weaker sales trends for both RIM and HTC, with these OEMs facing increased competition from broader iPhone distribution and new Android smartphone launches,” Walkley wrote. “Further, we believe weak trends are company-specific for both OEMs rather than indications of a weaker smartphone macro.”

The analyst continued, “Our checks indicated HTC has lost significant share in the U.S. market the past several months following the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S II launches. In addition, our checks indicated continued soft BlackBerry sales due to high-end share losses combined with lower-priced Nokia feature phones and sub-$200 Android smartphones adversely impacting sales in emerging markets.”

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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