Apple Inc. closed the gap on Samsung Electronics [kr:005930] in the fourth quarter in terms of global smartphone sales. The Cupertino-based company, which in the December quarter sold 74.5 million iPhones, was only 600,000 units short of Samsung in terms of shipments, a near tie, according to data giant IDC. Last year, Apple trailed its South Korean rival by 33 million units. Apple served as the number two smartphone vendor by global shipments for 11 straight quarters, however strong sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have significantly fueled growth. Apple in November sold its billionth iOS device. Apple isn't Samsung's worst fear though. Samsung is also facing increased competition from lower-priced manufacturers in emerging markets that also operate on Google's Android operating system. Shares of Apple were up 1.6% in recent trade, two days after the company posted record sales and profits.
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