Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Samsung passes Nokia in total cellphone shipments, overtakes Apple in smartphones

The Korean company is on a tear

NBR staff
Wed, 02 May 2012

May 2: A second survey has found that Samsung has overtaken Nokia to become the world's biggest cellphone maker - and passed Apple in the smartphone market to boot.

The worldwide mobile phone market declined 1.5% year over year in the first quarter of 2012 as Samsung ousted longtime leader Nokia to become the world's top mobile phone vendor. And the Korean company may be in for another boost this Friday as the Samsung Galaxy S3 - the successor to its best-selling iPhone rival the S2 - is unveiled this Friday morning.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, cellphone makers shipped 398.4 million units in the first quarter of this year compared to 404.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011.

Nokia has been the global market leader in total mobile phone shipments since the inception of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004. Samsung's ascension to the market's top spot is largely a reflection of its gains in the smartphone market over the past two years, IDC says.

ABOVE: Total worldwide cellphone shipments, in millions. Behind the top three, China's ZTE has risen at the expense of LG.

"The halcyon days of rapid growth in the smartphone market have been good to Samsung," says Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program. "Samsung has used its established relationships with carriers in a mix of economically diverse markets to gain share organically and at the expense of former high fliers such as Nokia."

Click to enlarge

Samsung overtakes Apple in smartphones
Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in 1Q12, as Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position.

Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in 1Q12 compared to 101.7 million units in 1Q11. The 42.5% year-over-year growth was 1% higher than IDC's forecast of 41.5% for the quarter, and lower than the 57.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones."

ABOVE: Worldwide smartphone shipments, in millions. Click to enlarge.

Smartphone Vendor Highlights
Samsung reclaimed the smartphone leadership position and established a new market record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter. Propelling the company forward was continued expansion of its Galaxy portfolio in nearly all directions - new and old smartphones, product and market segmentation, and multiple price points, screen sizes, and processor speeds.

Apple slipped to second place in the worldwide smartphone market, but nonetheless posted strong year-over-year growth to reach 35.1 million units shipped. Apple's gains in the market benefited from iPhone availability at additional mobile operators worldwide, as well as sustained end-user demand among both consumers and enterprise users.

Nokia's Symbian phone shipments declined precipitously last quarter as demand dropped in key emerging markets, such as China. The company's current smartphone woes make a speedy transition to products powered by the Windows Phone operating system, upon which it has bet its smartphone future, critical.

Research In Motion's BlackBerry unit decline continued last quarter, reaching levels not seen since 2009. Like Nokia, RIM is a company in transition. Smartphones running on its new platform, BB 10, will be released later this year. Until then, results like these may be a sign of things to come.

HTC's struggles in the U.S. market once again negatively affected its overall performance. However, its relatively strong performance in Asia/Pacific still allowed the company to maintain its position among the top 5 smartphone vendors. The company is staking future success in large part on its One X and S products.

April 30: Samsung overtook Nokia in the first quarter to become the world's biggest cellphone maker, according to market research company Strategy Analytics.

The Korean company's mobile phone shipments surged from an estimated 68.9 million in the year-ago quarter to 93.5 million in the first three months of 2012.

At the same time, Nokia - which recently reported a 29% revenue fall - crashed from 108.5 million to an estimated 82.7 million.

In its recent announcement of record $US4.5 billion quarterly profit, Samsung did not break out specific smartphone numbers. However, it's estimated the company sold around 44 million handsets in the smartphone category; most of them running on Google's Android software.

Despite essentially having a single model, Apple came in third with 35.1 million handsets shipped.

Nokia is attempting a comeback with smartphones based on Microsoft's Windows Phone software under a multi-billion alliance between the two companies. The first models in the pair's Lumia series were launched in November last year.

So far, the Lumia has sold around 2 million units.

NBR staff
Wed, 02 May 2012
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Samsung passes Nokia in total cellphone shipments, overtakes Apple in smartphones