iPhone 5 (three-up, profile, front, back, black and white)

If you skimmed recent headlines, you could think Google’s Android was clearly in charge of the smartphone arms race. Yet, there are these pesky indicators that Apple’s impending collapse ranks right up there with the Mayan Calendar crazy talk.

However, a new report by a smartphone tracking firm shows Apple has more than half of the US market.

In other words, one out of each two smartphones sold in the country is the iPhone. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Apple now has captured a cool 53 percent of the market for smartphones in the United States, an increase from 37 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, Android fell to 42 percent, down from 53 percent a year ago. Along with grabbing ten percent from Android, Apple also apparently gained six percent of the market from RIM…

The record domestic market share is largely due to strong iPhone 5 sales, the firm announced.

The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows Apple has achieved its highest ever share in the US (53.3 percent) in the latest twelve weeks, with the iPhone 5 helping to boost sales.

The numbers are good news for Apple, which has seen its stock price whipsawed between Wall Street analysts one day worried that it can’t sell enough iPhone 5 handsets to meet a huge demand and the next worried that too few iPhone 5 devices are selling to hold off Samsung.

Meanwhile, investors sell the stock because of concerns capital gains tax breaks won’t survive fiscal cliff negotiations. Lost in the shuffle is just how well Apple devices are selling.

Kantar US smartphones 2012 (chart 002)

After Citi earlier this week set off a rash of downgrades and sell recommendations, JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz essentially told Wall Street to cool its jets.

Yes, orders by Apple to its suppliers have dropped – but not because of lower demand for the iPhone 5.  Instead, the likely cause is suppliers have finally improved their processes that Apple can dial back pressure applied to catch up with shortages.

The iPad mini is seeing a similarly strong uptake, with Apple reportedly increasing 2012 orders for the device by an additional two million units.

Of course, the pressure from Android is not going away.

Google is still gaining in much of Europe, and elsewhere. According to the Kantar report, Android has 61 percent of the smartphone market (up from 51 percent a year ago) in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Kantar US smartphones 2012 (chart 001)

Europe is Samsung’s key stronghold:

Meanwhile in Europe, Samsung continues to hold the number one smartphone manufacturer spot across the big five countries, with 44.3 percent share in the latest twelve weeks. Apple takes second place with 25.3 percent share while HTC, Sony and Nokia shares remain close in the chase for third position.

However, a week that began with irrational trading appears headed for an equally unexplainable end. Monday, Apple announced it sold more than two million iPhone 5 handsets during the first weekend in China.

The company stock promptly dropped below $500 per share. Now comes word that Apple has the highest US marketshare – and the stock is down more than five points at 516 in early morning trading.

Apple Store (iPad mini banner, holiday 2012)

Perhaps news that yacht owned by the late Steve Jobs was impounded in Europe is yet the latest hint Apple is on the skids?

Where do you stand?

Is Apple up, down, or somewhere in-between?