Additionally, Samsung's inventory deployment counted shipments to carriers in 60 countries, including Korea, China, India and the U.S.
Apple launched iPhone 5 in just 9 countries: U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. A week later, long after selling those first 5 million units, it added 22 more countries, mostly in Europe.
That was still less than half the launch countries Samsung shipped its initial Galaxy S4 units to, but Samsung also has more carriers in those countries than Apple. That includes carriers like T-Mobile, which didn't get iPhone 5 until April 12, six months after its original launch.
Despite the late start, the carrier still reported half a million iPhone 5 sales in its first month of selling the iPhone.
A research note by Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research observed that "distribution for the iPhone, at ~240 carriers is significantly lower than Samsung and Nokia, which have essentially global distribution, and Blackberry, which is distributed by >2x the number of carriers."
Apple's country launches much slower than Samsung
Additionally, despite the fact that iPhone 5 marked Apple's fastest global release ever for a smartphone, the new smartphone didn't reach many large markets, including India, until November 2, a launch date for several additional countries that was actually delayed a week due to supply issues.
iPhone 5 didn't launch in Samsung's home of Korea until December 7, and didn't reach the huge market of China until December 14. In total, another 50 countries got iPhone 5 in December, nearly a quarter after its record setting launch weekend.
Apple announced another 2 million iPhone 5 sales in its China launch weekend, exclusive of the 32 other countries that got iPhone 5 the same day.
Samsung still mostly sells cheap, old smartphones
Samsung does continues to sell more mobile devices than Apple. While it refuses to say how many, IDC estimates that Samsung shipped 70.7 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, compared to Apple's announced sales of 37.4 million iPhones.
Shipments of Samsung's high end Galaxy S4 therefore only account for about 14 percent or 1/7th of its smartphone shipments. That compares unfavorably to Apple's estimated mix of iPhone models, which, while Apple doesn't detail figures publicly, analysts have complained that "only" about half of Apple's iPhone sales are its latest iPhone 5 model.