In the fourth quarter of 2011 Apple and Samsung were neck and neck with Apple edging out Samsung by selling 37 million units, 0.8 million more than Samsung's 36.2 million units.
However, according to a recent IDC report, Samsung has skyrocketed past Apple will sales of 64.7 million units in 4Q12. Apple reported sales of 47.8 million smartphones in the same period.
Samsung set a new record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and in a single year. Its broad and deep line-up of Android smartphones, particularly the Galaxy-branded Android family, combined with sustained demand for its mid-range and entry-level models to account for the remarkable shipment volumes. 2013 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the company as its Tizen smartphone strategy takes shape. Samsung will continue to rely on Android as its primary operating system, however, as the move to Tizen will not likely take place overnight.
Apple's record iPhone shipments in the quarter were driven by successes in Greater China, where shipments more than doubled, as well as the U.S., where 6.2 million iPhones were activated on Verizon alone. Interestingly, the company's success was due in large part to older models, in particular the iPhone 4, which Apple couldn't make enough of in the quarter relative to demand. Its sales success with the older model could portend success in higher-growth emerging markets where the company has performed well.