Report: Samsung passes Apple in smartphone shipments in Q3

Samsung Electronics surpassed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in terms of smartphone shipments for third quarter, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, with its 20 million smartphone shipments besting Apple's 17.1 million iPhone shipments for Apple's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 24.

The report, which cited an unnamed source, comes a week before Samsung officially announces its results. However, it will be difficult to discern just how many smartphones Samsung shipped in the quarter because starting with its second-quarter results Samsung decided not to reveal shipments figures.

In the second quarter Samsung declined to say how many handsets it shipped in the quarter, the first time the company had not provided shipment figures since it started reporting quarterly performance a decade ago. Samsung said at the time it was no longer providing handset sales and forecast numbers due to increased business risks. Samsung and Apple are currently locked in a bitter patent dispute across the world.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped 19.2 million smartphones in the second quarter, just behind Apple, though analysts said Samsung seemed poised to overtake Apple in the third quarter for the title of the world's largest smartphone maker (Nokia (NYSE:NOK) shipped 16.8 million smartphones in the third quarter). Apple said its iPhone shipments were down in its most recent quarter because consumers declined to buy iPhones in anticipation of the iPhone 4S, which went on sale Oct. 14.

Samsung has steadily been building its smartphone presence, largely thanks to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, though it also uses Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and its homegrown bada platform. Samsung's line of Galaxy-branded devices have been particularly popular, and Samsung said that since the Galaxy S went on sale in the spring of 2010, it has sold 30 million units of the Galaxy S and its successor, the Galaxy S II, which was released earlier this year. Samsung shipped 12 million smartphones in the first quarter.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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