Gartner: Apple Tops Smartphone Vendor List of Last Year

Gartner has declared Apple the top smartphone vendor of 2011, an achievement awarded Wednesday to the iPhone maker after a 12-month sales surge made possible by the critical and commercial praise of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Although others in the mobile community felt Samsung would emerge as 2011’s leading manufacturer of the market’s hottest mobile devices, the fourth quarter of 2011 – which was a powerful, record-breaking quarter for Apple – put the iPhone maker over the top.

For the quarter ending December 2011, Apple scored 23.8 percent share of the smartphone market on sales of 37 million iPhones.

“Western Europe and North America led most of the smartphone growth for Apple during the fourth quarter of 2011,” Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza said Wednesday. “In Western Europe the spike in iPhone sales in the fourth quarter saved the overall smartphone market after two consecutive quarters of slow sales.”

Although Apple and Samsung were neck-and-neck as the smartphone race neared the finish line last year, it wa s different story altogether for other smartphone vendors.

LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Research In Motion finished well below the numbers put up by Apple and Samsung in terms of raw sales and overall smartphone market shares.

Year ending global smartphone sales were 472 million units, an increase of 58% over 2010.

Not a bad year for smartphones in the least.