Apple beat Samsung to world’s top smartphone vendor last quarter

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Samsung was screwed by the Galaxy Note 7 recall.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s stellar quarter for iPhone sales didn’t just put more money in the bank; it also helped the Cupertino company overtake Samsung to become the world’s top smartphone vendor.

According to the latest data from Strategy Analytics, Apple shipped 78.3 million handsets in Q4 2016 — around 800,000 more than Samsung. However, the iPhone wouldn’t have stood a chance if it wasn’t for the Galaxy Note 7 recall.

Apple’s 5 percent increase in shipments year-over-year helped it secure a 17.8 percent share of the global smartphone market last quarter. This narrowly beat Samsung’s share of 17.7 percent from 77.5 million units sold.

Much of this can be contributed to a record number of people switching to iPhone from Android devices, and impressive growth in emerging markets like China. “The level of interest continues to be phenomenal,” said Luca Maestri during Apple’s earnings call on Tuesday.

Tim Cook is confident there’s still plenty of room for the iPhone to grow. “I think the smartphone is still in the early innings of the game,” he said. “App developers are still inventing and there are some exciting things in the pipeline that I feel really good about.”

This year’s iPhone 8 refresh is expected to be huge for Apple. With a new design and new features to celebrate the handset’s tenth anniversary, the new model is likely to break iPhone sales records all over again.

It was a somewhat hollow victory for Apple last quarter, however. Samsung was forced to recall 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 units and cease production just months after it made its debut due to battery faults that could cause the handset to overheat and explode.

Had the company avoided that, its shipments would have climbed to 80 million, easily beating Apple’s.

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  • “Had the company avoided that, its shipments would have climbed to 80 million, easily beating Apple’s.”

    For that to happen, you would have to assume that either everyone who owned a Note 7 switched to another vendor, or that they decided cellphones were not for them. I’m assuming that the majority of Note 7 owners opted for another Samsung device, so they are represented in Samsung’s sales figures.

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