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Apple, Samsung snatch smartphone biz booty

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Who's making money selling smartphones? Apple and Samsung and… er… that's it, market watcher ABI Research said today. Together, these two raked in more than 90 per cent of the market's profits.

That's for the three months to the end of March 2012, and it's not at all bad considering the two of them only account for 55 per cent of the unit sales during the period.

Overall shipments were up 41 per cent to 144.6m units, ABI said. Samsung shipped 43m of them; Apple a further 35m. Their nearest rivals, Nokia and RIM, shipped 11.9m and 11.1m smartphones, respectively.

Sony, Huawei and ZTE rounded out the chart with shipments of 7m, 6.8m and 4.9m respectively.

Sony should watch its back. Huawei and ZTE are strong in the Chinese smartphone market, which grew more than 80 per cent in terms of unit shipments year on year. Success in China will define the winners in the smartphone arena over the coming years.

Then again, Sony does have momentum, and id at least grow it sales sequentially over Q4 2011. Samsung was the only other manufacturer to do so.

Compare that to Nokia, which saw a 40 per cent decline in shipments quarter on quarter. RIM's shipments fell 20 per cent.

The prognosis for Nokia is not good. “Nokia will have to grow its Windows Phone business 5000 per cent in 2012 just to offset its declines in Symbian shipments,” said ABI senior analyst Michael Morgan. ®

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