If you follow the mobile phone space at all, you probably know the drill by now: Every time a new market share report comes out, it shows Apple losing smartphone market share to Android smartphone vendors, particularly Samsung. Apple skeptics renew their calls  for a much cheaper iPhone to beat back Android in the developing world, while Apple defenders reiterate that Apple cares more about profit share  than market share anyway.
But here's an interesting fact, courtesy of new figures from IDC.  In the last quarter of 2013, Apple once again lost market share to other smartphone vendors -- it captured 17.9% of the global smartphone market share in that quarter, compared with 20.9% a year ago. Same goes for the whole year -- Apple's share of the smartphone market in 2013 was 15.3% versus 18.7% last year.
But if you look at the overall mobile phone market -- not just smartphones, but all phones -- Apple's share grew from 9.9% to 10.4% in the quarter, and from 7.8% to 8.4% for the whole year.
By way of comparison, Samsung -- the company that is supposedly crushing Apple -- posted lower overall mobile phone sales in Q4 of 2013 than a year ago. Its absolute numbers dropped from 113.6 million to 112.0 million in this year's holiday quarter, and its market share dropped from 23.5% to 22.9%.
If you subscribe to the church of market share, this actually seems like fantastic news for Apple. The company not only earns more money than any other handset maker, but its first-mover advantage in smartphones is still helping it grow its share of the overall mobile phone market -- a market it wasn't even competing in until 2007.
Success in computing platforms is more about installed base  than market share anyway, but even so, Apple's smartphone business -- while falling short of analysts' estimates  this quarter -- is still pretty amazing.