Apple Inc took back the sales crown from Samsung Electronics Co in smartphone sales in the fourth quarter, a market research firm said on Friday.
Thanks to the introduction of its iPhone 4S model, Apple saw its smartphone sales rise to 37 million for the quarter.
Samsung does not give figures for how many smartphones it sells, but Strategy Analytics Inc said Samsung's earnings report on Friday indicated sales of 36.5 million units after the company reported its smartphone sales had spiked 30% quarter-on-quarter.
Such sales would give the South Korean company a 23.5% market share, right on the heels of its US rival's 23.9%.
Samsung held the top spot in the third quarter and also came out on top for all of 2011, Strategy Analytics said. It sold an estimated 97.4 million smartphones for the year, more than Apple's 93 million iPhones.
Samsung is locked in battle with Apple for smartphone dominance. Both companies are also engaged in a bitter court fight over patents for the design and technology that goes into their smartphones and tablet computers.
Nokia Corp took third place with 19.6 million smartphones sold in the fourth quarter, amounting to a 12.6% market share, down from the 28.1% it held a year earlier.
For the year, Nokia sold 77.3 million units.
Smartphone shipments worldwide in the fourth quarter rose 55% year-on-year to a record 155 million while 2011 shipments were up 11% at 488.5 million.