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Apple tops smartphone seller chart

Sales to real punters, not shipments from factories, this time

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Apple put more smartphones in the hands of punters than any other vendor during Q4 2011, and was the third most purchased brand in the mobile phone market as a whole.

The iPhone maker's chart position comes from market watcher Gartner. Unlike other handset business stats released by other research companies, Gartner's numbers focus on sales to end users, not shipments out of manufacturers' warehouses. So they give a better picture of phone ownership.

In Q4 2011, then, some 35,456,000 people received an iPhone - some 7.4 per cent of the quarter's total mobile phone purchases, and a healthy increase on the 3.5 per cent share Apple took in Q4 2010.

Nokia topped the chart, selling 111,699,400 phones - 23.4 per cent of the total - followed by Samsung, the vendor favoured by 92,682,300 buyers - 19.4 per cent. Both companies increased their share by a few percentage points.

For 2011 as a whole, we see the same top three: Nokia, Samsung and Apple, selling, respectively, 422,478,300, 313,904,200 and 89,263,200 handsets to real people.

LG and ZTE filled out the top five, followed by RIM, HTC, Huawei, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

Gartner didn't provide comparable figures for smartphone suppliers, focusing instead on platforms. In Q4, Apple's iOS was second only to Android, with 35,456,000 units in punters' hands to the Google OS' 75,9061,100 units. Those figures give Android and iOS shares of 50.9 per cent and 23.8 per cent, respectively.

Given the numbers put in by HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, it's clear that while Samsung accounted for a big chunk of those 75m Android sales, it didn't sell more than Apple did, making the Cupertino company the biggest selling individual smartphone seller.

Symbian put in a respectable share of 11.8 per cent, ahead of BlackBerry's 8.8 per cent and Bada's 2.1 per cent.

Microsoft's combined Windows Mobile and Windows Phone share amounted to just 1.9 per cent. So just over two-and-three-quarter million people bought an MS smartphone in Q4 2011, showing how few of Nokia's colossal quarterly sales to end users were Windows Phone devices. But it's still betting the farm on the platform. ®

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