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(Pocket-lint) - Apple and Samsung's strength in the US smartphone market is continuing to grow in dominance, according to research group NPD. The duo now account for 68 per cent of smartphones owned in the US as customers look toward flagship handsets like the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4.

Christmas sales helped boost Apple iPhone ownership in the US from 35 per cent in Q4 2012 to 42 per cent in Q4 2013.  During the same period Samsung shipped 26 per cent of smartphones, up from 22 per cent in the previous year. Essentially, Apple made the larger gains in the US as its lead widened by 3 per cent.

While Apple and Samsung grow, HTC, Motorola and BlackBerry have reported a decrease in shipping smartphones during the Christmas sale season compared to 2012.

apple and samsung dominate us smartphone market with 68 per cent share image 2

NPD reports smartphone penetration is still on the rise in the US, with 60 per cent of cell phone users having a smartphone during Q4 2013, up from 52 per cent the year before.

With more smartphones being sold, more data is being pushed to customers from carriers. The research firm notes that customers are pulling in an average of 6.6GB per month of data as of the end of 2013, up considerably from 5.5GB at the end of 2012. NPD says Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify are among the apps responsible for the continued drive in data consumption.

Writing by Jake Smith. Originally published on 16 January 2014.