Samsung Galaxy S III Sales Greater Than iPhone 4S For First Time

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
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But analysts tell Samsung to enjoy it while it lasts

Samsung Galaxy S III sales exceeded that of the iPhone 4S for the first time during the third quarter of 2012, but its lead is not expected to last.

Samsung shifted 18 million units during the period, up from 5.4 million during the previous quarter, while sales of the iPhone 4S dropped from 19.4 million to 16.2 million.

The decline in sales was attributed to consumers delaying their purchase of an Apple smartphone until the launch of the iPhone 5, which launched in September. Apple shifted 6 million iPhone 5s in the third quarter, which, when combined with sales of the iPhone 4S, exceeds the Samsung Galaxy S III’s total.

Samsung Galaxy S III sales victory

“The Galaxy S3 captured an impressive 11 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally and it has become the world’s best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever,” said Neil Shah, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. “A large touchscreen design, extensive distribution across dozens of countries, and generous operator subsidies have been among the main causes of the Galaxy S3’s success.”

The Samsung Galaxy’s ascent to the top of the table represents a success for the Korean manufacturer, which is battling Apple in both the smartphone market and the courtroom. The Samsung Galaxy S III was released in May and sold more than ten million units during its first two months on sale.

However, analysts do not expect Samsung’s lead to last for too long.

“The Galaxy S3’s position as the world’s best-selling smartphone model is likely to be short-lived. The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6 million units shipped globally during Q3 2012,” commented Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. “We expect the new iPhone 5 to out-ship Samsung’s Galaxy S3 in the coming fourth quarter of 2012 and Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world’s most popular smartphone model.”

This of course depends on Apple’s ability to produce enough iPhone 5s. More than five million devices were shifted during its first three days on sale, but assembler Foxconn has reported it is struggling to keep up with demand. This, along with increased competition and management changes, has affected investor confidence and resulted in Apple’s share price slumping to a five month low earlier this week.

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