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Samsung ascendant

Is the age of iPhone domination finally over? Though Google's Android overtook Apple's iOS as the most popular smartphone platform last year, Apple has been able to hold up its head and remind the world that as a hardware manufacturer it was top of the smartphone tree - depending, at least, on whether you trust Nokia's rather broad definition of smartphone. To put it another way, Apple were selling more iPhones than any of the big Android phone manufacturers were selling of their Android phones.

Not any more. New figures from market-watchers Asymco show that in the first quarter of 2011, Samsung finally closed the gap on Apple, matching it with a whopping 20 million smartphones sold in the three-month period. That's a huge jump up from around 12 million in the last quarter of 2010, fuelled by the great reaction to its powerful new Galaxy S 2 handset.

Of course, Apple has the iPhone 5 up its sleeve, so Samsung's time sharing the top spot may be brief. And there's the small matter of the patent spat between the two companies, whereby Apple alleges Samsung has only done so well by ripping off its designs. Nevertheless, this serves as conclusive proof that the big electronics companies who love Android are now competing toe-to-toe with Apple on sales (though not necessarily on profitability - Android phones tend to be cheaper).

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