South Korean conglomerate Samsung was able to score the top spot in the global smartphone race last year, leading Apple by a healthy margin. IDC's estimates showed that Samsung's 215.8 million units shipped were well ahead of the 135.9 million iPhones that Apple sold in 2012. Apple has always had more strength on its home turf, and comScore's latest digits show that the iPhone maker is outpacing Samsung in the important U.S. market.

The data shows that 129.4 million consumers in the U.S. now own smartphones, representing 55% penetration. That figure is up 7% from October. In this geographical segment, Apple leads its archenemy by a healthy margin; it grabbed 37.8% of the market in the three months ending in January. In comparison, Samsung's slice was 21.4%.

Smartphone OEM

October 2012

January 2013

Change

Apple

34.3%

37.8%

3.5%

Samsung

19.5%

21.4%

1.9%

HTC

11.4%

9.7%

(1.7%)

Motorola

10%

8.6%

(1.4%)

LG

6.7%

7%

0.3%

Source: comScore.


Not only was Apple on top, but its growth outpaced all of its rivals. Samsung still put up a respectable showing, even as it lacked any major product introductions. The Galaxy S IV is set to be unveiled on March 14, which may give it a boost. HTC continues to see its fortunes decline and just said today that its sales in February plunged by 44% from a year ago.

Google's Motorola subsidiary ranked No. 4 after giving up a modest percentage. The search giant likely isn't surprised at the decline, though, as CFO Patrick Pichette recently made some disparaging remarks about Motorola's product pipeline. At the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference last week, Pichette bluntly said Google inherited 18 months of products that weren't up to Google's "wow" standards. Big G is anxious to drain these devices and build the next wave of innovative gadgets under Google's corporate umbrella.

comScore notes that the increase in U.S. smartphone adoption was largely driven by Apple. Most of Samsung's success has been in emerging markets, but outpacing the South Korean company in the U.S. will still help Apple catch up.

Apple's growth story is far from over, and the company still has massive opportunities ahead. We've outlined them right here in The Motley Fool's premium Apple research service, and it may give you the courage to be greedy when others are fearful. If you're looking for some guidance on Apple's prospects, get started by clicking here.

The article Is Apple Catching Up With Samsung? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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