Apple enjoyed stellar sales in the last quarter of 2011. Not only were more iPhone units sold than in any previous three month period, a market research firm says this company sold more smartphones in the United States than all makers of Android handsets combined.
There were just over 37 million iPhones sold in the October – December period. That’s almost certainly going to be enough to make Apple the biggest smartphone maker in the world, surpassing the previous holder of this title, Samsung.
More than that, market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech says that Apple had 44.9% of the U.S. smartphone market in Q4. The combined share of all companies making handsets running Google’s Android OS was 44.8%, giving the iPhone a slight lead over its biggest rival.
This is confirmation that the iOS can successfully compete even though Apple is the only company making devices running this operating system. A wide range of companies make Android devices, including Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Pantech, and Sony.
What Caused the Surge?
There were a number of factors that combined to push Apple’s sales numbers up into the stratosphere last quarter. Previously, Apple had introduced new smartphone models in the summer, so there was a big surge of sales at that time, followed later in the year by another surge during the holiday shopping season. The iPhone 4S, however, launched in October, so these two surges were combined.
Also, Apple added a new U.S. carrier to its lineup. This fall, Sprint joined AT&T and Verizon in being allowed to sell the iPhone 4 and 4S.
In addition, AT&T began offering the iPhone 3GS for free with a two-year contract — the first time any Apple smartphone has been this affordable. Even though this smartphone debuted in 2009, it still sold in high enough numbers that Apple and AT&T have struggled to keep up with demand.