An interesting thing happened in the smartphone market during the second quarter. Both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung passed Nokia (NYSE:NOK) in worldwide smartphone sales, according to ABI Research.
Apple shipped over 20.3 million iPhones to take the No. 1 position. Samsung followed with 19 million smartphones sold, including more than 5 million Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based Galaxy S II devices in less than three months.
Nokia represented 16.7 million handsets shipped, while Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) was No. 4 with 13.2 million smartphones sold, an 11 percent drop from Q2 2010.
Overall, Android comprised 46.4 percent of 103 million smartphones sold in Q2, showing Android's global reach is great even in the face of the prestigious iPhone.
One interesting story line is how Android has led a major resurgence in Samsung's smartphone business. Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones helped the company tally 34 percent of Android smartphone shipments. HTC was No. 2 in Android unit share with 23 percent.
"Although Apple's 142 percent year-over-year growth placed it as No. 1 this quarter, Samsung's 500 percent [year-over-year] growth shows that going forward, the top smartphone OEM position is Samsung's to lose," said ABI Research Senior Analyst Michael Morgan.
There are two major happenings afoot that could impact the smartphone market ecosystem going forward, including one situation that could curb Morgan's enthusiasm for Samsung's Android phone sales.
First, Samsung and Apple are embroiled in serious patent infringement litigation that could ultimately decide the fate of both Apple's ability to sell iOS and Samsung's ability to sell Android phones. Apple accused Samsung of copying its phone designs and Samsung fired back a counterclaim.
That case is one of many Apple has levied against Android handset makers. However, Apple won a small victory when HTC lost a motion this month to have patent infringement claims filed against it by Apple for its Android phones dismissed.
If HTC is found to have infringed, it will be enjoined from selling Android phones; this precedence could foreshadow dire results for the rest of the Android OEMs, such as Samsung and Motorola (NYSE:MMI).
The second major happening lies on the horizon. Samsung is expected to launch its Galaxy S II phones in the United States next month. Apple is expected to counter by launching the iPhone 5 in September.
If early buzz is any indication--and the hype is great for both--the Galaxy S II and iPhone 5 will set the stage for the next great smartphone battle for the fall shopping season.