iphone 5 and samsung galaxy s3

Samsung gains on Apple as the dominant mobile device maker

Continued sales gains in the last three months of 2012 have propelled Samsung to within 10 percent of Apple's smartphone market share, according to the latest research from the NPD Group.

Apple retained a 39 percent market share, but Samsung closed what had been a 20 percentage point gap to 9 percent between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2012. At 30 percent, Samsung's share rose 9 percent year-over-year, while Apple's slid down two points from 41 percent.

[ MORE SMARTPHONES: The Samsung Galaxy S 4 shows up in New Zealand, and on an AT&T stat sheet ]

Older iPhones still sell

NPD Group vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker said that Apple's continued strength isn't simply the product of iPhone 5 mania.

iphone4s

"In addition to strong U.S. sales of iPhone 5, Apple has been bolstered by strong and continued demand for older, less-expensive iPhone models," he said in a statement.

NPD Group's statistics bear this out—on a quarterly basis, iPhone 4 sales rose by 79 percent, and iPhone 4S sales increased by 43 percent.

Even though the hot new iPhone 5 accounted for less than half of all iPhone sales in the quarter, it was still the top-selling single model in that period of time, with the Samsung Galaxy S III in second place. The rest of the top five looked pretty similar, with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and Samsung Galaxy S II rounding out the field.

NPD Group's findings also showed further evidence of the trend towards greater smartphone sales as a proportion of the total mobile market—the company said that 81 percent of all mobile phones sold in the fourth quarter of 2012 were smartphones, up from 66 percent in the same period in 2011.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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