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Samsung Displaces Nokia as Top Cellphone Brand in 2012 and Takes Decisive
Smartphone Lead Over Apple
El Segundo, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2012)— For the first time in 14 years, wireless
communications giant Nokia will not sit atop the global cellphone business on
an annual basis at the end of 2012—with Samsung set to seize the mobile handset
market’s top rank.
Samsung is expected to account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments,
up from 24 percent in 2011, according to the IHS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless
Communications Service at information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).
Nokia’s share this year will drop to 24 percent, down from 30 percent last
year, as presented in Table 1.
A dislodged Nokia will cause Samsung to rise to first place for the full year
of 2012, up from the second rank in 2011, the first time the South Korean
electronics titan will occupy the top on a yearly basis. Nokia will fall to the
runner-up spot, the first time since 1998 it won’t be in peak position for
overall cellphone shipments during a full calendar year.
“The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was ‘live by the
smartphone; die by the smartphone,’” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for
wireless communications at IHS. “Smartphones represent the fastest-growing
segment of the cellphone 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 cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two
companies’ divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector.”
Global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent this year, while
overall cellphone shipments will increase by approximately 1 percent. This
rapid growth will propel 2012 smartphone penetration to 47 percent, up from 35
percent in 2011.
Samsung’s success vs. Nokia’s nosedive
Samsung's success has been built on its “fast follower” strategy for design and
manufacturing. The company produces dozens of new smartphone models every year
that address all segments of the market, from the high end to the low end.
Samsung monitors the big trends in smartphone design, user needs and unmet
market opportunities, then creates products to fit those markets quickly and
Meanwhile, Finnish-based Nokia is mired in transitioning its smartphone line to
the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company.
Sales of the company’s older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new
Microsoft Windows 7-based handsets haven’t been able to make up for the loss so
Samsung is expected to post the best performance among the Top 5 smartphone
brands in 2012, with its share of global smartphone shipments rising 8 points
to 28 percent, up from 20 percent in 2011. In contrast, Nokia will suffer the
biggest decrease, with its share forecast to plunge by 11 points to 5 percent
in 2012, down from 16 percent in 2011, as presented in Table 2.
Samsung pulls ahead of Apple
Samsung and Apple ended 2011 in a neck-and-neck battle for leadership in the
smartphone market, with only 1 percentage point of market share separating
them. However, entering the 2012 year, Samsung moved ahead decisively ahead of
Apple with a wide range of Android smartphone offerings. Samsung made
significant gains in both the high end as well as the low-cost market with its
Galaxy line of smartphones. This diversified market approach has allowed
Samsung to address a larger target audience for its phones than Apple’s limited
premium iPhone line.
The Samsung and Apple duopoly represents the dominant force in the smartphone
market, with the two companies accounting for 49 percent of shipments in 2012,
up from 39 percent in 2011. While Nokia and Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM)
also held double-digit shares of the market in 2011, Samsung and Apple remain
the only two players that will each command a double-digit portion of the
smartphone space in 2012.
HTC and RIM face challenges
Along with Nokia, two other entities—HTC of Taiwan, as well as RIM—struggled
throughout 2012 in the smartphone market.
HTC is facing a tough battle against Samsung, an acknowledged technology
powerhouse, in the Android smartphone market. Market share for HTC will shrink
to 5 percent in 2012, down from 9 percent in 2011.
RIM, meanwhile, lacking a fresh new version of its operating system, has seen
its market share slip as the company’s traditional enterprise consumers left
the platform for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. RIM’s share will fall
to 5 percent in 2012, down from 11 percent in 2011.
2013: Smartphones go mainstream
With the growth momentum behind smartphones, IHS anticipates that the
smartphone penetration rate in 2013 will elevate smartphones into the majority
among all phone segments, at 56 percent. This event will mark a significant
tipping point in the mobile handset market, as the smartphone takes a dominant
position in the industry.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Manager, Editorial
Direct: + 1 408 654 1714
Mobile: +1 408 921 3754
IHS Media Relations
+1 303 305 8021
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