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How Many Smartphones Did It Take Apple To Outpace Samsung?

For the first time since 2011, Apple has outsold Samsung in the mobile phone arena.

According to technology research firm Gartner, with worldwide sales of its smartphones for the fourth quarter of 2014 totaling approximately 74.8 million units, Apple surpassed Samsung — which sold approximately 73 million of its own devices during the same period — to take over the No. 1 position in the global smartphone market. Samsung had held the top spot throughout the previous three years.

“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, in the company’s press release. “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.”

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, pointed to Apple’s continued dominance of the high-end phone market and lower-priced smartphones from Chinese vendors as a double-edged sword that knocked Samsung out of first place in worldwide sales. If Samsung is to regain that position, Cozza remarked that it will have to do so “through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices [so] that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market.”

The Gartner report notes that Apple’s large-screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were a central contributor to the company’s surge, with sales increasing 56 percent in China and 88 percent in the U.S. Overall sales of smartphones across the globe experienced a record fourth quarter in 2014, Gartner reported, as sales increased 29.9 percent from the same period in 2013 for a total of 367.5 million units. Apple also led 2014 in ad revenue by a wide margin, according to a study from Opera Mediaworks. The company’s research found that Apple was the clear winner, with iOS accounting for 51.67 percent of all revenue and monetization via mobile ads.

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