Samsung Becomes World's Largest Maker of Mobile Phones in Q1 2012 - Analysts

Samsung Ships Largest Number of Smartphones and Typical Phones in Q1 2012

by Anton Shilov
05/04/2012 | 03:02 PM

The worldwide mobile phone market declined 1.5% year over year in the first quarter of 2012 to 398.4 million, but Samsung Electronics managed to oust longtime leader Nokia to become the world's top mobile phone vendor, according to the International Data Corp. Effectively, Samsung is now the world's largest supplier of both smartphones and all mobile phones.


According to the International Data Corp., vendors shipped 398.4 million mobile phone units in Q1 2012 compared to 404.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in Q1 2012. Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in Q1 2012 compared to 101.7 million units in Q1 2011. 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.

Nokia: No More Good Days?

Nokia has been the global market leader in total mobile phone shipments since 1996. 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 amid explosive growth of that market.

"The halcyon days of rapid growth in the smartphone market have been good to Samsung. 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," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's worldwide mobile phone tracker program.

Apple vs. Samsung: As Titans Clash, The Rest Stand Still

During the quarter Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position despite of the fact that Apple released iPhone 4S on several new markets, whereas Samsung did not have any breakthrough products apart from Galaxy Note.

"The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas. 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. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile phone technology and trends program.

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