Samsung and Apple post strong mobile phone sales, thanks to strong product lines, while Nokia and RIM slip, according to IDC.
The worldwide mobile phone market
declined 1.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012, as Samsung
ousted longtime leader Nokia to become the world's top mobile phone vendor.
According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped
398.4 million units in the first quarter, compared with 404.3 million units in
the first quarter of 2011.
Nokia has been the global
market leader in total mobile phone shipments since the inception of IDC's
Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004. 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, said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile
Phone Tracker program. "The halcyon days of rapid growth in the smartphone
market have been good to Samsung," he said. "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
In the first quarter, the
worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5 percent year-over-year, as Samsung
overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position. Vendors shipped 144.9
million smartphones during the quarter, compared with 101.7 million units in
the year-earlier period. The 42.5 percent year-over-year growth was 1 percentage
point higher than IDC's forecast of 41.5 percent for the quarter, and lower
than the 57.4 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"The race between Apple
and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted
growth in key areas," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with
IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "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."
Samsung reclaimed the
smartphone leadership position and established a new market record for the
number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter. Propelling the company
forward was continued expansion of its Galaxy portfolio in nearly all
directionsnew and old smartphones, product and market segmentation, and multiple
price points, screen sizes and processor speeds, the IDC report noted. Apple
slipped to second place in the worldwide smartphone market, but nonetheless
posted strong year-over-year growth to reach 35.1 million units shipped. IDC
said Apple's gains in the market benefited from iPhone availability at
additional mobile operators worldwide, as well as sustained demand among both
consumers and enterprise users.
Nokia's Symbian phone
shipments declined precipitously last quarter as demand dropped in key emerging
markets, such as China. The company's current smartphone woes make a speedy
transition to products powered by the Windows Phone operating system, upon
which it has bet its smartphone future, critical, the report noted. Research
In Motion's BlackBerry unit decline continued last quarter, reaching levels not
seen since 2009. Similar to Nokia, RIM is a company in transition. Smartphones
running on its new platform, BB 10, will be released later this year. Until
then, results like these may be a sign of things to come.
The IDC report said HTC's
struggles in the U.S. market once again negatively affected its overall performance.
However, its relatively strong performance in the Asia-Pacific still allowed
the company to maintain its position among the top five smartphone vendors,
the report noted. The company is staking future success in large part on its
One X and S products.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.