Samsung has been under intense pressure in the smartphone market, particularly in China, where it was knocked off the top spot by upstart competitor Xiaomi. It has been unable to take hold of the premium category that Apple dominates, while Chinese players have been eating away at its mid-to-low-end products.
"Samsung continues to face intense competition from Apple at the higher-end of the smartphone market, from Huawei in the middle-tiers, and from Xiaomi and others at the entry-level. Samsung may soon have to consider taking over rivals, such as Blackberry, in order to revitalize growth this year," Mawston said.
Samsung had a 24.7 percent global market share in 2014, while Apple controlled 15 percent of the market.
The South Korean electronics giant reported fourth quarter profits of 5.3 trillion won ($4.88 billion), a 36 percent slump from a year earlier. In contrast, Apple reported blockbuster fiscal first quarter earnings on Tuesday that beat Wall Street's estimates.
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After Apple and Samsung, Lenovo was the third biggest vendor, according to Strategy Analytics. Lenovo, which bough Motorola a year ago, was followed by Huawei, highlighting the rise of Chinese smartphone players on the global stage over the past year.
Overall in 2014, nearly 1.3 billion smartphones were shipped, an almost 30 percent increase from the year before.
Android remained the dominant mobile operating system, Strategy Analytics said. The Google-based software had an 81.2 percent market share in 2014.
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