Samsung Topples Nokia As The Top Cell-Phone Company
After 14 years in first place, Nokia is no longer the top cell-phone manufacturer. Samsung accounted for 29% of worldwide cell-phone shipments in 2012, up from 24% in 2011, according to the HIS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless Communication Service. Nokia’s share dropped to 24%, down from 30% last year. Nokia has held the number-one spot in the market since 1998. Apple, ZTE, and LG rounded out the top five at 10%, 6%, and 4%, respectively.
“The competitive reality of the cell-phone market in 2012 was ‘live by the smart phone, die by the smart phone,’” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. “Smart phones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cell-phone market and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung’s successes and Nokia’s struggles in the cell-phone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies’ divergent fortunes in the smart-phone sector.”
IHS expects global smart-phone shipments to rise by 35.5% this year, while overall cell-phone shipments will increase by approximately 1%. This rapid growth will propel 2012 smart-phone penetration to 47%, up from 35% in 2011. Samsung will capture 28% of the smart-phone market, followed by Apple at 20%, and Nokia, HTC, and RIM at 5% each. Looking ahead, smart phones will total 56% of all phones in 2013, IHS says.
Samsung built its success on its “fast follower” strategy for design and manufacturing. It produces dozens of new smart-phone models each year addressing all of the segments of the market, from the high end to the low end. IHS credits the company with monitoring the big trends in smart-phone design, user needs, and unmet market opportunities, then creating products to fit those markets quickly and efficiently.
Nokia, IHS notes, is mired in moving its smart-phone line to the Microsoft Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments. Sales of its older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its Windows 7-based handsets haven’t been able to make up for the loss.
Meanwhile, Samsung also pulled ahead of Apple with a wide range of Android smart-phone models. Its Galaxy line produced significant gains at the high end and low end of the market, reaching a broader target audience than Apple’s premium iPhone line. Together, the companies represent 49% of smart-phone shipments in 2012.
Like Nokia, HTC and RIM took some lumps in 2012. HTC is losing ground in the Android smart-phone market to Samsung, with its share shrinking from 9% in 2011 to 5% in 2012. And without a new version of its operating system, RIM lost its traditional enterprise customers to Apple and Android. It’s share of the smart-phone market dropped from 11% in 2011 to 5% in 2012.
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