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It’s official: Samsung has beaten Apple to become No. 1 in smartphone revenue

by Phil Hornshaw

A few days ago, reports circulated that a surge in sales of Samsung’s smartphones, coupled with a decline in sales of Apple’s iPhones, had led Samsung to become the top smartphone seller in the most recently-completed quarter.

Earnings numbers reported by the company for the quarter ending on Sept. 30 peg Samsung as the no. 1 smartphone maker by revenue, after the Korean company’s telecom division pulled down about $13.5 billion (technically, 14.9 trillion won). That’s a 37 percent increase over what Samsung reported last year during the same period, according to a story from TechCrunch.

Largely, those big increases are probably at the feet of the Samsung Galaxy S II, the company’s flagship Android-running smartphone. As Pocket Gamer points out, the device is expected to have raked-in 10 million sales since its launch, which is definitely a tidy sum for a device that’s not the iPhone. By way of comparison, Apple announced it had sold 4 million iPhone 4S units in the first weekend, including about a million pre-orders within the first 24 hours they were available.

But while Samsung has taken the lead from Apple in terms of revenue earned by its devices, both companies are still behind Nokia in terms of units actually sold. And the comparison of Samsung to Apple isn’t a 100-percent fair one, given that Apple releases but one smartphone every year and still manages to compete against Samsung’s many devices.

Still, Samsung should be commended for its numbers. The company didn’t release its actual sales figures, but did say it had quadrupled smartphone sales over the previous quarter. One analyst estimates they could be as high as 28 million for the quarter (Apple’s were but 17 million, a decline of about 3 million units sold during the same time the previous year).

Samsung’s smartphone business accounted for 36 percent of the total 41.3 trillion won it reported earning for Q3 (about $35 billion). Not bad for a company currently fighting Apple in the patent courts of several countries.

In the next quarter, in order to stay on top, Samsung will have to successfully slay (or at least surpass) the iPhone 4S, which sounds like no easy feat. The company could have an ace in the hole with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, however. It’s the next device in the Nexus line of Google-branded phones and will be the first phone to pack Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which the two companies introduced a couple weeks ago and surely has customers excited.