Samsung Eclipses Apple, Nokia in Mobile Phone Shipments: IHS

The Samsung and Apple duopoly still represents the dominant force in the smartphone market, accounting for almost half of all handsets sold. 

Technology giant Samsung is set to seize the mobile handset market’s top rank this year, ending the 14-year reign of rival manufacturer Nokia, according to the IHS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless Communications Service at information and analytics provider IHS.

The report projected Samsung would account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, while Nokia share this year will drop to 24 percent, down from 30 percent last year. Samsung’s ability to quickly produce and replace a wide range of handsets aimed at several different markets contrasted with Nokia’s struggles, including a transition to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system from the company’s older, Symbian-based phones.

On the smartphone front, 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 is expected to post the best performance among the top 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.

“The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was ‘live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,’” IHS wireless communications senior analyst Wayne Lam said in a statement. “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.”

While Samsung has managed to eclipse arch-rival Apple in smartphone shipments thanks to its best-selling Galaxy line of handsets, the Samsung and Apple duopoly still represents the dominant force in the smartphone market, with the two companies accounting for just under half (49 percent) of shipments in 2012, up from 39 percent in 2011.

“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,” the report said. “This diversified market approach has allowed Samsung to address a larger target audience for its phones than Apple’s limited premium iPhone line.”

While Nokia and BlackBerry maker 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, the report noted. RIM 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, with the company’s smartphone market share expected to fall to 5 percent in 2012, down from 11 percent in 2011.