Samsung Becomes Top Smartphone Vendor in 2011 - Market Observers

Samsung and Apple Led Smartphone Shipments Last Year

by Anton Shilov
02/01/2012 | 11:15 PM

Thanks to Nokia Corp.'s massive losses on the smartphone market last year and to rapidly growing popularity of smartphones, Samsung Electronics and Apple became the top smartphone suppliers in 2011 with 95 million and 93 million units shipped, respectively. According to preliminary figures from IHS iSuppli, Nokia only managed to sell 77 million smartphones last year.

Samsung Becomes Top Smartphone Maker in 2011


Samsung for the entire year of 2011 shipped 95 million smartphones, up an explosive 278% from 25 million in 2010. This industry-leading growth allowed it to pass both Apple and previous market leader Nokia to take the No. 1 rank for the entire year of 2011.

“Samsung advanced in 2011 because of its strategy of offering a complete line of smartphone products, spanning a variety of price points, features and operating systems. This enabled Samsung to move past perennial market leader Nokia and to slightly exceed Apple’s total for the year,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst of wireless communications at IHS.

For its part, Apple posted the second-best performance of all smartphone brands for the entire year of 2011, with its shipments nearly doubling to 93 million units, up from 47 million in 2010.

The market share battle between Apple and Samsung reflects the competition between the two leading smartphone operating systems and ecosystems: Apple's iOS and Google's Android. However, the other major Android licensees - Sony Ericsson and Motorola - did not match Samsung’s strong smartphone performance in the fourth quarter or for the entire year.

“The relatively small growth of Sony Ericsson and Motorola may indicate that the Android smartphone market is becoming too crowded as the various licensees compete for limited consumer mindshare and shelf space,” added Mr. Lam.

Apple Sets All-Time Smartphone Shipments Record in Q4 2011

After losing market leadership in the third quarter, Apple returned to the No. 1 rank in global smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter as consumers flocked to buy the newly introduced iPhone 4S. Meanwhile, based on strong sales of its broad line of smartphone products.

Apple in the fourth quarter of 2011 shipped 37 million smartphones worldwide, up 117% from 17 million in the second quarter. This represented the strongest sequential quarterly growth among the Top 5 smartphone brands. Apple’s strong performance allowed it to slightly exceed Samsung’s total of 36 million. Previously in the third quarter, Samsung had usurped Apple to take over the No. 1 rank, which Apple had attained for the first time in the second quarter.

“Apple’s introduction of the 4S in the fourth quarter unleashed tremendous pent-up demand for the iPhone as consumers awaited the arrival of the latest model. This caused the company’s smartphone shipments to surge, allowing it to retake market leadership by a slight margin. However, Apple and Samsung continue to run neck and neck in global smartphone shipments, setting up a tight battle for leadership that will continue throughout 2012,” said Wayne Lam.