Apple is no longer the world's leader in smartphone sales, but now, it's not even in the top two in the U.S. Samsung is the world's leader in smartphone sales, and Apple is now number three in the U.S. There is indeed a smartphone war going on right now, especially because the holiday season is coming up. But it's important to understand what companies are trying to do rather than saying iPhone is better or Galaxy S2 is better etc.

For Apple, it's about the technology yes, but they only sold high end smartphones until recently. They are offering the iPhone 3GS for free to new AT&T subscribers, but it's not that the 3G is an entry level device, it's just outdated. The fact that people still want three year old technology is a testament to how well Apple markets its products. They have become elevated to status symbols.

Now that mobile technology is becoming more widely available, more and more devices are being made. That is why the prices of technology drop over time, and that is also why companies like HTC and Nokia are so successful. HTC is the number one U.S. smartphone maker now, a Canalys analyst announced this week. They make a range of devices not necessarily in competition with the iPhone, but are successful because they are less costly for consumers.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer was quoted as saying you need to be an engineer to understand Android based phones at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco last month. A CEO of a rival company can pretty much always be counted on to denigrade his competitors, but he was also alluding to the simplicity of use that Apple is also known for. Microsoft's own Windows Phone devices are selling themselves as a lower priced, but still easy to use alternative to Apple.

So this shopping season, if you are weighing what device to purchase. Make sure to test out what devices you are interested in, but also ask yourself what exactly you want to do with the device. Gamers might opt for a Windows Phone so they can control their Xbox with it. Hard core technology aficionados may indeed opt for the wide variety of customizable open-source Android devices. But it often does come down to price, and that is why other companies have caught up with Apple. iPhone 4S sold four million devices in the first weekend it was available, and it may yet come out on top after the holidays.

Apple has been on top for a long time in the smartphone business, and now iPhone is down to number three. It's a super competitive business, and Siri the virtual assistant was key addition to iPhone 4S, so if they can keep coming up with those type of innovations, they can keep the Samsungs, Motorolas, and HTCs of the world in the rear-view mirror.