Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S each outsold the Galaxy S3 in Q4

February 20, 2013: 7:32 AM ET

For the first time, Apple has the world's No. 1 and No. 2 bestselling smartphones

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- Drilling a little deeper into sales data than the larger tech research firms, Strategy Analytics on Wednesday released the chart at right, which breaks smartphone sales down by model number.

The data show that Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5 overtook Samsung's Galaxy S3 by some 12 million units in the last quarter of 2012 to become the world's bestselling smartphone.

That's not terribly surprising. What is surprising is that according to Strategy Analytics the iPhone 4S -- discounted by Apple when the new model came out -- also overtook the Galaxy S3.

Meanwhile, in other Apple news, the Financial Times reports that Foxconn, Apple's largest supplier, has put a hold on hiring and is cutting back on iPhone 5 production. Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson offers three possible reasons:

  • Apple might be gearing up to build a new version of the iPhone. They have already been plenty of leaks about the iPhone 5S.
  • Apple could be switching manufacturers.
  • Apple could be screwed, dealing with a saturated smartphone market.

"Yikes. More likely Apple bad news," tweeted Henry Blodget, Carlson's boss, making it clear how he's going to spin the story.

UPDATE: Bloomberg reports: "Foxconn halted recruitment until the end of March after more employees returned from the Chinese New Year break than a year earlier, Bruce Liu, a spokesman for the Taipei-based company, said today in a phone interview. The decision wasn't related to iPhone 5 production, he said, refuting an earlier report in the Financial Times that linked the hiring freeze to a slowdown in orders for the handset." See Apple Falls After iPhone Builder Foxconn Halts Hiring.

UPDATE 2: Apple may be to blame for Foxconn's hiring freeze after all.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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