Apple top U.S. smartphone manufacturer in last quarter

by Phil Hornshaw

Samsung may have eclipsed Apple as the top smartphone manufacturer in the world, but in the U.S., the iPhone is still the hardware leader in the market.

The information comes from Nielsen via TechCrunch, which finds that the Apple commands 28 percent of the smartphone market in the U.S. With basically one brand of handset (rather than the many brands that other device manufacturers, such as Samsung, offer to customers), that number puts Apple significantly ahead of other makers.

Nielsen found that while Apple makes up 28 percent of the smartphone market in the U.S., in terms of mobile operating systems, Google’s Android is still tops with 43 percent of market share. Google’s chunk increased from 39 percent during the same time last year.

According to TechCrunch’s story, Apple shipped only 4.2 percent of smartphone handsets in the quarter ending at the close of September, but accounted for some 52 percent of smartphone revenue. At least, that’s where Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley pegs the numbers, stating that of the eight major cellular carriers in the world, Apple’s iPhones are responsible for better than half of their revenue by handset. In the previous quarter, however, Apple accounted for 57 percent of revenue in the previous quarter, though.

By contrast, Samsung accounts for 29 percent of profits among smartphone vendors, which has climbed from 18 percent the quarter prior. HTC’s share of the profits is 9 percent, with Research In Motion accounting for 7 percent and Nokia for 4 percent.

In the quarter that ended in September, Samsung usurped Apple’s spot as the highest-selling handset maker in the world, and Samsung has also had a serious jump in the last quarter among carriers. While Apple lost four percentage points in its share of revenue in the smartphone market, Samsung increased its share by 11 percent between two quarters. That jump is expected to be largely the influence of Samsung’s latest Android device, the Samsung Galaxy S II.

But while Samsung has had some serious successes, Canaccord Genuity pegs the iPhone 4S as the top-selling smartphone among the three biggest carriers in the U.S. (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint), with the iPhone 4 falling in as the second-highest selling device. Walkley expects that Apple could ship as many as 29 million iPhone devices in the final quarter of 2011, which began in October.

Apple is still very much going strong, but it’s clear that Samsung is nipping at the tech giant’s heels, at least in the smartphone department. While Apple is hitting Samsung hard in court and still commands a huge slice of the market, the numbers suggest Apple needs to keep on its toes as Samsung and Android become even bigger forces in the market.