Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in the first quarter overtook Nokia Corp. to become the world’s largest cellphone brand for the first time. However, Samsung remained in second place in the smartphone segment of the cellphone market, behind Apple Inc. The South Korean electronics giant shipped 92 million cellphones worldwide in the first quarter, compared to 83 million for longtime market leader Nokia.While Samsung’s shipments declined by 13 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, Nokia’s dropped by 27 percent, as presented in Table 1. This allowed Samsung to raise one position to take first place.
Wayne Lam, Sr. Analyst, Wireless Communications, HIS said, “With cellphones now accounting for more than 40 percent of Samsung’s overall revenue, it’s clear that the company’s continued investments in smartphone hardware and software R&D are paying off. The company is not only cashing in on the market’s shift to smartphones, but is also succeeding in other cellphone product categories, allowing it to capture the overall market lead. What makes Samsung’s performance even more impressive is that the company’s latest Galaxy S III handset has yet to be launched, with shipments set to start in May. This indicates Samsung is likely to make further progress in market share in 2012.”
With Samsung taking the leadership position, it will mark the first time since 1998 that Nokia has not been the No. 1 brand in the global cellphone market.
Ian Fogg, Sr. Principal Analyst, Mobile for HIS said, “Samsung’s surpassing of Nokia for cellphone market leadership represents not only a changing of the guard among handset brands but also a fundamental shift in the structure of the wireless market. Cellphone market growth is now being generated exclusively by the smartphone segment, and not by the feature phones, entry-level cellphones and ultra-low-cost handsets (ULCH) that had fueled the industry’s expansion over the previous decade. Samsung has successfully ridden the wave of smartphone adoption to attain market leadership. Meanwhile, Nokia is in the midst of transitioning its smartphone strategy, resulting in declining shipments for the company. Samsung is reaping the rewards of strong execution in product design, distribution and marketing. The company has been bold and innovative with handset form factors, featuring differentiated handsets such as the Galaxy Note with its sizable 5-inch display, and a wide range of handsets in every other conceivable screen size.”