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Samsung beating Apple in US smartphone sales in between iPhone introductions


It's too soon to tell, but Samsung might have finally beaten Apple to become the United State's top smartphone maker, at least for now. A new report by the investment research firm Canaccord Genuity shows that Samsung beat Apple in US sales in May. In particular, Canaccord found the Galaxy S 4, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III sold more units combined than Apple's iPhone.

It's important to be aware of the methodology Canaccord used to develop their findings. The study surveyed only the retail stores of carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Apple Stores were not surveyed. At Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint stores the Galaxy S 4 was the top-seller for the month of May. The iPhone 5 only beat the Galaxy S 4 at AT&T stores.

According to Canaccord analyst T. Michael Walkley:

"While we believe Samsung and Apple maintained dominant share of the US smartphone market versus sub-scale Android OEMs and struggling Windows Phone and BlackBerry ecosystems, we believe Samsung on the strength of strong Galaxy S 4, S III and Note II sales surpassed Apple to gain top share of the US smartphone market for the first time since the iPhone 5 launch,"

That last line is important, the part that reads "for the first time since the iPhone 5 launch." The iPhone 5 hit stores in late September 2012, meaning for nearly eight months it was the leader in the mobile marketplace. So what changed? Outside of T-Mobile finally getting access to the iPhone 5, nothing on Apple's side. But in that same time, Samsung has been releasing a slew of new phones. Popular ones with features comparable to the iPhone and, in some cases, not available on the iPhone.

For hardcore Apple fans the yearly upgrade makes sense. I'm still holding onto my iPhone 4S with a death grip because it's a fantastic phone with the features I need until the next one is available. But for someone looking to upgrade now, the options are a little more difficult. Do you go with an 8-month-old Apple iPhone 5 or do you go with a similarly priced yet brand-new phone from the Samsung Galaxy series?

For buyers without Apple loyalty, this is a serious issue. My first smartphone was a Droid X. I bought it because I needed a new phone and I didn't want to wait to buy the latest iPhone. As the pace of tech development and competition continues to grow, it will be interesting to see if Apple can continue to stick to its predictable release schedule for new phones.

When Apple has a new product, it sells like mad. It's just a matter of waiting for the release. In fact Samsung would be wise not to break out the champagne just yet. While they beat Apple in May sales, a report released this past Tuesday from ComScore found that Apple made up 39.2 percent of all smartphone subscribers in the first quarter of 2013. Samsung came in second with 22 percent. ComScore's reporting included all models of Samsung and iPhones in the US.

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