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Samsung and Apple nearly tied for total computer, tablet, and smartphone shipments last quarter

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Apple vs Samsung stock
Apple vs Samsung stock

By now, it's no surprise that Apple and Samsung are slugging it out for dominance in the tablet and smartphone markets, not to mention more "traditional" computing platforms like laptops and desktops. However, Samsung has always been a little bit cagey about giving away exact numbers, so noted data house IDC has put together some estimates to show exactly how close things are — in Q4 of 2012, Samsung held a 21.2 percent marketshare of all smartphone, tablet, desktop, and laptop sales worldwide, with Apple trailing just behind at 20.3 percent.

That's a pretty massive jump for Apple, which sat at 15.7 percent of the total market in Q3 2012 —not surprisingly, IDC attributed the iPhone 5 and iPad mini launches for helping Apple close the gap. We'd imagine Apple will keep it close in Q1 of this year, and that the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch helps widen the gap again — unless Apple has something big up its sleeves in the next few months. It's also worth noting that Apple kept its historically high profits — the company had a 30.7 percent revenue share in Q4, compared to Samsung's 20.4 percent share.

The post-PC world is right in front of us

Beyond Samsung and Apple, IDC also released some complete 2012 data on smartphone, laptop, tablet, and desktop shipments across all manufacturers, and tablets were the major growth driver last year. Total worldwide shipments for the year grew 29.1 percent to reach 1.2 billion devices, with tablets and smartphones growing 78.4 and 46.1 percent year-over-year, respectively. Traditional desktop and laptop shipments both slipped slightly, down 4.1 and 3.4 percent respectively. IDC doesn't see this trend reversing, either — the company predicts that by the end of 2014, tablet sales will have eclipsed both desktop and laptop sales. There's a lot that can change between now and then, but it's hard to deny that we're definitely in the middle of a move to the post-PC world.