Samsung is probably the world's #1 smartphone vendor, based on year-to-date figures. Apple is unlikely to be selling sufficient iPhone 4S units to catch up.
So far this year, the company has shipped more than 300 million handsets. These figures are via Reuters' Sung-won Shim:
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd said...its annual mobile handset sales this year had exceeded 300 million units for the first time in the company's history. ... Handset sales in 2010 were about 280 million.
So, even excluding December -- traditionally a huge sales month in most of the world -- Samsung has blown past its figures for the entirety of last year. By the time we've all linked arms and sung Auld Lang Syne, we could be looking at 350 or even 400 million sales.
What does this mean for its bitter rival, Apple? According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung became the #1 smartphone vendor in Q3, with 27.8 million units shipped, vs. 17.1 for Apple. However, that was before the iPhone 4S finally shipped. We're told by Apple that it sold more than four million units in its first three days, but that reflects months of pent-up demand (and little or no channel shortages).
So Apple is highly unlikely to maintain that run-rate of around 1.4 million per day during Q4. But can Samsung continue to stay ahead during the quarter?
Given the popularity of models such as the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus, the back of my envelope tells me that Samsung is very probably still the #1 smartphone vendor. What's your take?
Whatever the reality, when the various market research organizations publish their numbers in January, there's going to be avid interest in Cupertino and Seoul.
It'll also be interesting to see what -- if any -- impact has been made by Apple's manically-aggressive moves to have sales of various Samsung devices banned.
Richi Jennings is an independent analyst, specializing in blogging, email, spam, security, and other technology topics. His writing has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. You can encircle him at +richi, follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be his friend at Facebook.com/richij or just use boring old email: firstname.lastname@example.org.