Nokia Corp. is still the largest maker of mobile phones in the world even after a massively unlucky year 2011, when the company lost smartphone leadership to Apple and Samsung Electronics. But this is only the beginning. Samsung claims that this year it will become the absolutely biggest supplier of cell phones on the planet.
Samsung chief executive Choi Gee-sung told reporters during his speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, that the company overtook Nokia in revenue terms in its latest reported quarter and was confident of topping the Finnish group in shipments this year. Although the popularity of Nokia phones is declining, the company is still very strong on emerging markets. Besides, the company has started selling its next-generation smartphones powered by Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" operating system and they can slowdown Nokia's declines in case the two partners manage to improve popularity of WP7.5 platform compared to Apple iOS or Google Android .
According to the latest polls by Reuters news-agency, Nokia was expected to sell 418 million phones in 2011, versus Samsung's 320 million. The gap would narrow this year to 388 million versus 359 million.
"Samsung is getting closer to Nokia very quickly. Their smartphones strategy has proven right and on feature phones they are growing fast in emerging markets too. Samsung became a recognized brand and their successful smartphones are helping their feature phones business in regions where smartphones are still too expensive," said Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst with IDC.
Analysts believe that with slowing sales in well-developed countries, it will be harder for Samsung to outsell Nokia as the company's stronghold has historically been emerging markets.
"Considering how strong Nokia still is in the emerging markets, Samsung's expectation seems to imply that Nokia will miserably fail in mature markets. I think it will be hard for Samsung to beat Nokia without more aggressively targeting emerging markets," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Gartner.