Samsung Slides To Number Two Behind Apple During Q4 2014 In 1.2 Billion Unit Smartphone Market

Smartphone sales jumped 28.4 percent to 1.2 billion units in 2014 and grew to represent two-thirds of the global phone market, according to the latest research by International Data Corporation (IDC). Growth was helped by a record fourth quarter that saw 367.5 million smartphone shipments, up 29.9 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013. Give credit to Apple for the strong finish.

Samsung had been the world's top smartphone supplier since 2011, but following the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple was able to dethrone the South Korean handset maker in the fourth quarter to narrowly take the top spot with a 20.4 percent share of the market on 74.8 million iPhone shipments. That put Samsung in second place with a 19.9 percent share of the market on shipments of 73 million handsets.

Apple Over Samsung
Image Source: Flickr (Kārlis Dambrāns)

"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," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. "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."

It's not all bad news for Samsung. The company just announced its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, both of which sport premium designs made of metal and glass. There are some tradeoffs to the new design -- specifically, Samsung can long longer boast a removable battery, microSD card slot, or waterproof characteristics with its latest handsets. Otherwise, it's a high-end upgrade with a unique feature in the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Samsung can also brag about having the largest share of the market for all of 2014. While Apple stepped up its game in the fourth quarter and edged out its rival, the full-year tally still favors Samsung, which shipped 307.6 million handsets for a 24.7 share of the market compared to Apple's 191.4 million shipments for a 15.4 percent share.