Samsung is claiming victory in the war of the mobiles after its large-screen Galaxy outsold the Apple iPhone.
In the crucial run-up to Christmas, the South Korean company shifted 700,000 handsets a day worldwide, selling 60million in the final three months of 2012.
Apple sold 47.8million iPhones in the same period – a disappointing figure that saw more than £35billion wiped from its stock market value.
Even though sales rose to record levels, Apple missed its targets – causing its shares to plunge by more than 10 per cent in one day.
Over just three months, profits from Samsung’s smartphone and tablet computer division more than doubled to £3.2billion.
One in three smartphones sold globally in 2012 was made by the company, according to ABI Research. Apple, which is based in California, produced one in five and lost number one spot.
The Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5 have been battling for supremacy after launches last year – with analysts saying the former’s screen size – 4.8in to 4in – was a key advantage.
The new iPhone also costs more – up to £700 if bought outside a pay-monthly contract compared with £500 for the Galaxy.
Industry experts claim Apple has become too focused on high-end, high-cost products that consumers cannot – or do not want to – pay for.
And with the fastest-growing smartphone market shifting to developing economies, the pressure on price will increase even more.
Shares in Apple fell again yesterday, and the company has now lost £40billion from its market value following its downbeat financial announcement on Wednesday night.
‘While there is no suggestion that the Apple success story is over it is likely that the company will have to run that much faster to stand still,’ said analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets UK. ‘It faces increasing competition from its rivals like Samsung, Nokia and Research in Motion, meaning the runaway gains of recent years could well be a thing of the past.’
In a statement, Samsung said the ‘furious growth spurt seen in the global smartphone market last year’ would be tempered by ‘intensifying price competition’ and a ‘slew of new products’.
The company’s profits between October and December rose 86 per cent to a record £5.2billion, with revenues rising 19 per cent to £32.7billion.
‘Samsung’s got a broader product line-up and Apple appears to be struggling in pushing iPhone volumes aggressively,’ said financial analyst Lee Se-chul, from Meritz Securities in Seoul, where Samsung is based.
‘Smartphone shipments will continue to grow, even in the traditionally weak first quarter,’ he concluded.
Earlier this week – on the same day Apple posted its poor results – Samsung became the global leader in microchip orders.
And with Samsung already working on its next phone – rumoured to have a paper-like screen – critics say Apple needs to bring out a new creation of its own to dazzle.