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Latest smartphone numbers show a galaxy of Samsungs

Several of today's leading smartphones.Devin Coldewey / NBC News

As smartphone shipments approach a billion a year, Samsung continues its dominance, showing no signs of slowing down despite the hugely competitive market. Can Apple or fast-growing competitors in Asia take the wind out of its sails?

The latest smartphone shipment numbers from Strategy Analytics paint a rosy picture of the smartphone industry at large: The total smartphones shipped this quarter just leaped past a quarter of a billion, despite the ongoing troubles of veterans like Blackberry, HTC, and Nokia.

Up-and-coming Chinese manufacturers provided the biggest growth percentage-wise. Huawei went from 7.6 million units this quarter last year to 12.7 million this year, and Lenovo went from 6.4 million to 10.8 million — both gains of about 60 percent year-over-year.

But it's the 800-pound gorilla called Samsung that really pushed the total numbers upwards to that magical quarter-billion mark, and fully 88 million of those were Samsungs. That's up more than 30 million from the same period last year, and up 12 million just since last quarter.

Total smartphone shipments year over year show huge growth.Strategy Analytics

This massive gain propelled Samsung to a historic 35 percent of all smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics' numbers. Apple, while adding a couple million units to its quarterly sales, nonetheless fell slightly in its overall share of the market, and it's down two full points from where it was at this time last year.

It's a tumultuous but growing market, and the Asian manufacturers are taking advantage of a home field advantage in growing markets like China, India, and Malaysia. But few if any will be challenging Samsung or Apple any time soon — it's a long way to the top.

"Almost any company with a few million Dollars can make or buy a smartphone these days," as Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston put it in an email to NBC News. "Of course, whether they make any profit is a different matter."

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is