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Samsung reportedly passes Apple in smartphone shipments

October 28, 2011 |  4:32 pm

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung has passed Apple as the world's top shipper of smartphones in the third quarter of the year, according to a report from the research firm Strategy Analytics.

But while Samsung sent more smartphones to retailer warehouses than Apple did during the July-through-September quarter, it is unclear if the South Korean company passed Apple in actual smartphone sales.

Strategy Analytics, and reporters such as myself, don't know if Samsung sold more smartphones than Apple because Samsung doesn't disclose its smartphone sales numbers.

Apple, however does disclose sales numbers for the iPhone and has reported that it sold "17.07 million iPhones in the quarter." The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant said that iPhone sales during the period were up 21% "over the year-ago quarter."

Samsung's smartphone shipments hit 28 million units, which gave the Apple rival a market share of 24%, according to market estimates from Strategy Analytics.

Apple's shipment market-share last quarter was at 15%, pushing the company to second place, the firm said. Coming in third was Nokia, with a 14% share of the smartphone shipment market, Strategy Analytics said.

Without sales numbers, it's tough to determine who is the global smartphone hardware king.

One advantage Samsung might have is that it produces a much larger number of smartphones than Apple.

At least 18 smartphones running Google's Android operating system were listed for sale on Samsung's U.S. website and that doesn't include the upcoming (and not yet shipped) Galaxy Nexus phone developed alongside Google. On top of that, the company also produces smartphones running on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Apple, on the other hand produces three -- the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.

The two tech giants are major rivals in the smartphone business and currently engaged in a global patent battle playing out in courtrooms across Europe, Asia, Australia and the U.S. with each company accusing the other of illegally using patented mobile technologies.

While the two are suing each other and competing for consumer dollars, the companies are also business partners with Samsung providing components for Apple's iPhone and iPad range of products.

RELATED:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus releasing Nov. 17 -- in the U.K.

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Samsung to pay Microsoft to use Android: Extortion or partnership?

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Samsung has passed Apple as the world's top shipper of smartphones in the third quarter of the year, according to a report. Credit: Kin Cheung / Associated Press

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