IDC: Apple sold most smartphones in Q4, but Samsung wins 2011

Updated. Both Apple(s AAPL) and Samsung have sold a historic amount of smartphones in the past year, and coming up with a tally of who sold more is harder than you’d think. But IDC says they’ve done all the number crunching looking at company shipments and have determined the most popular smartphone maker.
Apple’s 37 million iPhones sold last quarter were good enough to just eke out a win in smartphones sold during the final three months of 2011. Meanwhile, Samsung shipped 36 million units during the same time frame, according to IDC.
But for all of 2011, Samsung actually shipped the most smartphones, to the tune of 94 million units, IDC says. That’s an increase in shipments of 310 percent for the company compared to 2010, when the company shipped just 22.9 million smartphones — a huge growth rate.
Apple was very close behind, with 93.2 million iPhones shipped during 2011, which, at 96 percent for the year, is also impressive growth¬†but nowhere near Samsung’s amazing showing.
If you’ve been following along then it won’t be a surprise that the rest of the smartphone pack failed to keep pace with these two. Nokia(s NOK) was a distant third for the year with 77.3 million smartphones shipped, followed by RIM(S RIMM) with 51.1 BlackBerrys shipped, and HTC with 43.5 million units.
The final tally for 2011 worldwide market share finds Samsung with a 19.1 percent share, and Apple with a 19 percent share. Some might say that’s too close to call. Whatever the exact numbers are, the real story is clearly how over the course of 2011 the smartphone market has coalesced around these two companies. I’d say 2012 is going to be a very interesting year in smartphones.

Note: This story originally misattributed the data to The NPD Group. The report is from IDC.