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Apple leapfrogs Samsung in US phone market - but how long can it hold on?

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

February 3, 2013 | 2 min read

Here's the later twist in the ongoing Apple-Samsung wars: Apple has passed Samsung to become the top mobile-phone maker in the U.S. for the first time.

Apple: tops in the US

Apple sold 17.7 million iPhones phones in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, a 38 percent jump from a year earlier, research firm Strategy Analytics said .

That gave Apple 34 percent of the market, besting Samsung, which sold 16.8 million handsets for a 32 percent market share. Total shipments grew 4 percent in the quarter to 52 million phones.

Reporting the Apple coup, Bloomberg said the U.S. market was "a stronghold for Apple" as it faces intensifying competition from Samsung and other makers using the Google Android system.

Samsung, which also makes cheaper, less-sophisticated handsets, is the global leader in mobile phones with more than 100 million sold last quarter.

“Apple’s success has been driven by its popular ecosystem of iPhones and App Store, generous carrier subsidies, and extensive marketing around the new iPhone 5 model,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics in London.

However, last month, Apple posted the the weakest sales increase in 14 quarters, "fueling concern about Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s ability to keep producing hit products more than a year after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs," said Bloomberg.

Even in the U.S., Samsung might regain the top spot in 2013 by releasing new models such as the Galaxy S4, Mawston said.

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