Samsung has been leading the charge in terms of global smartphone sales since the beginning of 2017, but IDC's latest figures indicate that the South Korean tech giant was pushed into second place by Apple in the last quarter of 2017 - a quarter in which unit sales actually fell, according to IDC.
Apple claimed top spot thanks to sales of its iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X, which hit the shelves during the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple overtook Samsung in smartphone sales stakes after trailing for the first three quarters of 2017, according to IDC's latest report.
But it's still a close call. According to the sales figures, Apple only just nudged Samsung into second place in the last quarter of 2017 as it shifted 77.3 million iPhones ahead of Samsung's 74.1 million unit sales.
This is all down to timing, though. Apple's loyal fan base as well as potential new customers alike are all well aware of Apple's release cycle, and spend accordingly. This is where Samsung is able to take a lead - at least, for the rest of the year until Apple release its next batch of shiny new iPhones in late summer and take the last quarter sales crown again.
In other words, it's a reoccurring cycle and nothing to be surprised about.
Nevertheless, according to Apple's CEO Tim Cook, the sales helped Apple to its best-ever quarter. Confusingly, perhaps, the last quarter of 2017 is Apple's fiscal first quarter of 2018. Revenues weighed in at $88.3 billion - up 12.6 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier - and net income rose 12.1 per cent to $20 billion.
Those results were partly driven by the eye-watering £999 price of the new iPhone X, which at least got off to a good start, even if reports have suggested that sales have slowed down.
"We're thrilled to report the biggest quarter in Apple's history, with broad-based growth that included the highest revenue ever from a new iPhone line-up. iPhone X surpassed our expectations and has been our top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped in November," claimed Cook in a statement.
"We've also achieved a significant milestone with our active installed base of devices reaching 1.3 billion in January. That's an increase of 30 per cent in just two years, which is a testament to the popularity of our products and the loyalty and satisfaction of our customers."
Despite the impressively positive spin by Cook and the (probably temporary) lead over Samsung, IDC's data suggests that Apple's iPhone sales for the last quarter of the year declined, year-over-year, by 1.3 per cent.
And according to the analysts, that's all down to the iPhone X, which didn't exactly fly off shelves as expected - regardless of Cook's claims.
Sales of the £999 iPhone have reportedly missed Apple's own estimates with it looking to halve the production orders it has from its suppliers for the flagship handset.
"Although demand for the new higher priced iPhone X may not have been as strong as many expected, the overall iPhone line-up appealed to a wider range of consumers in both emerging and developed markets," IDC said in its report.
This, perhaps, proves that Apple should continue to offer consumers numerous models at various price points in order to bring new smartphone owners to iOS, especially in fast-growing emerging markets where the unit growth is right now.
All-in-all, Apple still finished second for the full year in 2017 shipping 215.8 million units, up 0.2 per cent from the 215.4 million units shipped in 2016, an achievement that is not to be sniffed at.
Samsung on the other hand remained the overall leader in the worldwide smartphone market for 2017 despite losing out to Apple in the fourth quarter.
IDC said that the firm managed to finish the year with 317.3 million shipments of its smartphones, up 1.9 per cent from the 311.4 million shipments in 2016, enjoying a much bigger boost in sales than Apple during the year.
Considering the South Korean smartphone maker has managed to retain its growth despite the exploding Galaxy Note 7 debacle of 2016 proves how resilient the company is.
And with the launch of the Galaxy S9 just around the corner - well, by March - the pendulum is about to swing back to Samsung for the rest of the year.
In the meantime, though, both companies are going to have to learn to adapt to a market that's not only plateaued, but which may well be heading for decline and the inevitable shake-up that market maturity brings.
IDC's figures indicate that the smartphone market didn't just fall marginally in the final quarter of the year, but by 6.3 per cent, losing 27.2 million unit sales in the process.
Apple may well be the best insulated of all the major vendors against a declining market, but soon investors will start asking what other blockbuster products it has up its sleeve to maintain the growth they've got used to over the past 20 or so years.
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