Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Samsung has overtaken Apple in 'smart connected devices'

February 22, 2013: 11:06 AM ET

The two leaders tower over Lenovo, HP and Sony, but stand in the shadow of "Others"

Data: IDC. Pie chart: PED

Data: IDC. Pie chart: PED. Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- IDC has issued a Q4 report on shipments of what they call "smart connected devices," a category that includes desktop PCs, notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Total shipments last quarter came to 367.7 million units, IDC estimates, with most of the growth in tablets (up 78.4% over 2011) and smartphones (up 46.1%), while desktop and laptop PC shipments shrank (-4.1% and -3.4%, respectively).

Apple (AAPL) lost the No. 1 spot  to Samsung in this year's survey, but the race was closer than it might have been if it weren't for the raft of new products Apple shipped last quarter.

"After falling well behind Samsung early in 2012," writes IDC's Bob O'Donnell, "Apple came roaring back in [the] final quarter of the year thanks to its latest hits – the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini – and reduced the market share gap to less than a single percentage point. The question moving forward will be whether or not Apple can maintain its hit parade against the juggernaut of Samsung."

Almost lost in the race for first place is the fact that Others, with a 44.7% market share last quarter, dwarfed both Samsung (21.2%) and Apple (20.3%).

NOTE: We have been critical in the past of IDC's methodology, given that they never explain how they can compare sales numbers that Apple releases with shipment numbers that Samsung doesn't. But even IDC was mystified by a report issued last week by CitiCorp's Glen Yeung that misquoted IDC to make Apple's tablet sales look worse than they were. According to IDC, Apple led the world in Q4 2012 with a 44% tablet market share, not the 38.8% that Yeung reported.

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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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