Samsung led the dominance in the competitive smartphone market for a long time, but it is time to name a new leader. Apple recorded highest growth and profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, making it the world's largest smartphone manufacturer, according to a new market analysis report by IT research firm Gartner.
The title was held by Samsung but trembling sales and declining profits gave way for the US tech giant.
According to the analysis, Apple surpassed Samsung's global smartphone sales by a thin margin. The total smartphone sales during the final quarter of last year were 367.5 million and Apple accounted for 74.8 million iPhones compared to Samsung's 73 million, Forbes reported.
"Samsung's performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share," Gartner's principal research analyst Anshul Gupta said in a press statement. "Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung's share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure."
This is a significant change for Samsung, which sold over 83 million smartphones the year before while Apple trailed behind with just 50 million devices. Apple's recent releases, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, have clearly turned the tables. The fourth quarter was so good for Apple that it raked in $18 billion, nearly 90% of all smartphone profits, a separate Strategy Analytics report said.
There are other smartphone manufacturers that have also witnessed a remarkable growth. Even as the premium phone category is reserved by Apple, Chinese smartphone makers have made themselves a respectable brand name in the affordable yet powerful smartphone category.
Lenovo sales, which also includes that of Motorola, secured a third place in the Q4 2014 with 24.3 million devices. And Huawei and Xiaomi rounded off the top five list with 21 million and 18.6 million devices, respectively.
"Chinese vendors are no longer followers," PCMag quoted Gartner Research Director Roberta Cozza as saying. "They are producing higher-quality devices with appealing new hardware features that can rival the more established players in the mobile phone market."