NPD: Apple tops Q4 US smartphone sales, Samsung a strong second place

Nothing super-shocking in this latest report from NPD -- not after seeing fairly similar numbers from Strategy Analytics not all that long ago, that is. According to the research group, Apple's leading the pack at 39-percent of US smartphone sales in the final quarter of last year -- that number's down from 41-percent this time last year. Bigger changes are afoot over at Samsung, however. The handset maker jumped from 21- to 30-percent from the same time last year, thanks in no small part to demand for the Galaxy S III. Go figure, NPD's top five list is dominated entirely by iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S iterations -- in fact, combined, the two manufacturers make up some 70-percent of sales. Motorola is in at a distant third, with seven-percent of sales, followed by HTC and LG, each at six-percent.

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According to NPD's Mobile Phone Track, Samsung's Q4 2012 U.S. Unit-Sales Volume Grew 117 Percent, But Apple Still Tops Overall Consumer Smartphone Sales

According to The NPD Group, a global information company, although Samsung's sales grew dramatically in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012, Apple continued to lead overall smartphone sales with 39 percent of the market compared to Samsung's 30 percent market share. Apple and Samsung continued to run away from all the other smartphone makers accounting for nearly 70 percent of all sales during Q4 2012. Following is NPD's year-over-year comparison of market share and growth for the top-five smartphone manufacturers:
Q4 2011 Q4 2012
Apple 41% 39%
Samsung 21% 30%
Motorola 8% 7%
HTC 14% 6%
LG 5% 6%

"Even taking into account the tremendous sales growth of the Galaxy III and other Samsung smartphones, the iPhone is still king of the U.S.-market hill," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. "In addition to strong U.S. sales of iPhone 5, Apple has been bolstered by strong and continued demand for older, less-expensive iPhone models."

Based on information from NPD's monthly Mobile Phone Track service, when comparing Q3 2012 with Q4 2012, U.S. iPhone 4 sales increased 79 percent and iPhone 4S sales grew 43 percent. Sales of the iPhone 5 made up 43 percent of all iPhone sales in Q4 2012 and accounted for almost two thirds of all post-paid smartphone sales above $199

Based on the latest information from NPD, the top-selling mobile phones in the U.S. were as follows:
Rank Brand
1 iPhone 5
2 Samsung Galaxy S III
3 iPhone 4S
4 iPhone 4
5 Samsung Galaxy S II

Total mobile phone unit sales increased 24 percent in Q4 2012, compared to the previous year with smartphones increasing by 52 percent and feature phones declining by 31 percent. Smartphones represented a record eight in 10 (81 percent) mobile phones sold, compared to just 66 percent in Q4 2011. Continuing the upward trend of pre-paid phones, in Q4 2012 pre-paid phone unit sales increased 139 percent over the previous year.

"While smartphone sales continued on their torrid pace in the fourth quarter, the seeds of change are evident in the sales numbers," Baker said. "With of the vast majority of all phone sales now smartphones, and with the largest unit-sales growth within smartphones occurring in the pre-paid segment, today's product pricing and channel models will need to adapt to accommodate this new reality."