Sales of Apple's iPhone surge in Asia as rival Samsung ebbs

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Fresh research published on Wednesday shows Apple's latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets led to significant gains in important Asian markets over November, including South Korea, where local tech giant Samsung saw product sales contract.

According to Counterpoint Research, iPhone marketshare grew in Japan, China and South Korea for the month of November, largely on the back of Apple's new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus "phablets," reports The Wall Street Journal.

Surprisingly, some of the biggest gains came from Samsung's home country of South Korean, where the company has traditionally held a dominating position for years. Armed with larger-screened iPhones, however, Apple's share of the market rocketed to 33 percent, more than doubling a 15 percent share prior to the launch of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The boost propelled Apple past LG and into the No. 2 spot behind Samsung, which saw its once-commanding marketshare drop from 60 percent to 46 percent over the same period.

"No foreign brand has gone beyond the 20% market share mark in the history of Korea's smartphone industry," said Counterpoint's mobile devices research director Tom Kang. "It has always been dominated by the global smartphone leader, Samsung. But iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have made a difference here, denting the competition's phablet sales."

As for China, the research firm saw iPhone sales grow 45 percent year-over-year to land Apple in third place with a 12 percent share. The finish was just behind Lenovo's 13 percent and market leader Xiaomi's 18 percent marketshare. Samsung saw dwindling interest and settled for a 9 percent marketshare, dropping down to fourth place.

Finally, Apple performed expectedly well in Japan, taking an overwhelming 51 percent of the smartphone market in November. Second place went to Sony, which managed a 17 percent slice of the market. Apple's success comes just two years after it first snagged the top spot in Japan in 2012, when iPhone ended the year with a 15 percent take of the entire mobile market, according to a prior Counterpoint report.

Today's results echo recent findings from Kantar WorldPanel, which reported strong worldwide gains for Apple on high demand for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Most recently, analysts at investment firms Morgan Stanley and UBS estimated Apple moved between 67 million and 69 million iPhones worldwide during for the fourth calendar quarter of 2014, pulverizing previous quarterly records.