Apple’s biggest components supplier and the fiercest competitor in smartphones and tablets, South Korea-based Samsung, today announces that it has sold a whopping 20 million units of its flagship Galaxy S III handset, unveiled on May 3 and backed by a massive advertising campaign.

That’s a marked achievement, even by Apple’s standards, one that proves that Samsung’s device has become the most serious contender to Apple’s iPhone in just three months. Can Samsung sell 30 million units by year’s end and, more importantly, will Apple with a little help of its next iPhone re-take the title of America’s best-selling smartphone?

Samsung thought the milestone was worth a mention, calling the device in a media release its most successful smartphone to date,one that has “set a new record, generating sales quicker than any of its predecessors”.

The company’s head of mobile JK Shin was quoted:

The Galaxy S III has enjoyed tremendous attention and popularity since its launch in May, and we are thrilled with its success.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to customers who have chosen the Galaxy S III. We will never stop providing the latest smart mobile technologies to help users live a life extraordinary.

Is it just me or does the “we will never stop providing” bit reads as a subtle reference to Samsung’s legal woes with Apple over smartphone and tablet technology?

The release also states that in addition to pebble blue and marble white, the S III will soon be available in four new colors: amber brown, garnet red, sapphire black and titanium gray.

Samsung earlier announced that the S III racketed up a cool ten million shipments in the first 55 days of availability.

Playing to Samsung’s favor is Apple’s summer sales lull as many customers hold off getting an iPhone in anticipation of a next-generation model, scheduled for an official announcement next Wednesday at a media event at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Samsung’s competitor and biggest buyer of components, California-based Apple, reported sales of four million iPhone 4S units in its first three days of availability last October. Its predecessor, the iPhone 4, sold 1.7 million units in its first three days of availability in June of 2010.

Apple conceded the top smartphone vendor title to Samsung this summer, based on second-quarter sales of 26 million iPhones versus 50 million smartphones for Samsung. The Galaxy maker earlier in the year destroyed Nokia to become the world’s largest cell phone vendor by volume.

According to one analyst, the S III in August beat the iPhone to become America’s best-selling smartphone.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated that the next iPhone will move up to ten million units in its first week of sale, enough to make Samsung’s U.S. lead short-lived.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L72tIBzAXSM
Apple, hot on the heels of its legal victory in the high-profile U.S. trial against Samsung, amended its complaint to add the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Note, and the new Galaxy Note 10.1 to its patent suit in Korea, due to go to trial sometime next summer.

Samsung responded by threatening to take Apple to court as soon as the iPhone 5 is released over an alleged breach of its patents related to fourth-generation LTE networking.

So, 20 million S III units in a hundred days.

Impressive, no?

Can Samsung sell a total of 30 million S IIIs in 2012?