iPhone's 36% of Q4 global handset revenue accelerates industry growth

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New data shows that Apple accounted for 36 percent of worldwide mobile phone revenue and 74 percent of industry EBIT in the fourth quarter of 2011, with the iPhone taking more than a quarter of the entire smartphone market.

According to a report released on Thursday from research firm UBS, Apple managed to garner 36% of the handset industry's revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011 while only accounting for 9% of units sold. This is up from the company's 20% share in Q3 and is largely attributed to pent up demand for the company's next generation iPhone 4S.

Apple dominated the market in EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) percentages, and accounted for 74% of the industry in Q4, up from 49% in the previous quarter.

The iPhone maker massive sales helped accelerate handset market revenue growth to +29% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011 and notes that without the iPhone, revenues and volume growth actually decelerated worldwide.

Source: UBS estimates

Analyst Maynard Um estimates that overall industry revenues excluding Apple grew only 4% year to year following an acceleration of +15% in Q3 and +19% in Q2. He goes on to say that overall volume growth decelerated from -5% year-over-year in Q3 to -7% in Q4 for developed markets, and from +20% y-o-y to +17% for emerging markets.

The emerging markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa saw a collective deceleration from +21% in Q3 to +9% in Q4, excluding iPhone sales. The burgeoning regions are important for Apple as the company continues to extend its reach beyond U.S. borders.

During the Cupertino, Calif., company's epic first quarter 2012 earnings call, it was said that demand for the iPhone in China was "staggering." The world's biggest mobile market is the second largest for Apple behind the U.S., and is seen as the source of gigantic sales in the coming years.

Worldwide smartphone growth also accelerated in quarter four, being mainly driven by Apple and Samsung, as feature phone sales continue to decline. Overall, the handsets now account for over 30% of the total mobile market and rake in 75% of industry revenues.

Market Share
Source: UBS estimates

The market is becoming a two horse race between Apple and Samsung, as the companies' combined sales accounted for over 55% of industry revenues and over 90% of industry EBIT.

Samsung's sales equate to an estimated 26% share of the overall smartphone market, and represented 54% of all Android phones sold in Q4. The share eclipses number two Android handset maker HTC's 15%, and doesn't show signs of slowing going into 2012.

The fight for OS dominance will continue into 2012, with Android currently enjoying a considerable lead of 44% of all smartphones, followed by Apple's iOS with 27% and a 12% for the dying Symbian platform.

OS share
Source: UBS estimates

Google's mobile operating system saw a slight decline at the end of 2011 while iOS gained some ground, but it is too early to tell if the rise resulting from the iPhone 4S launch will start a trend into 2102.