Samsung Displaces Nokia as Top Cellphone Brand in 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 will account for 29 per cent of worldwide cellphone shipments for the whole of 2012, putting it atop the global leader board, analyst IHS iSuppli has said. The number compares to 24 per cent of the market during 2011 for Samsung.

Nokia’s share for the full year, meanwhile, is expected to be 24 per cent, putting it in second behind Samsung. Last year Nokia’s share was 30 per cent.

Nokia has occupied the number one position since 1998.

“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,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS.

IHS iSuppli December Report
IHS iSuppli December 2012 Report

Samsung also solidified its lead against Apple Inc. in the global smartphone market in 2012, according to the survey. While in 2011, Apple and Samsung were neck-and-neck with only one percentage point between them, IHS estimates that Samsung’s market share in smartphones rose to 28% this year from 20% a year earlier. Apple’s smartphone market share likely rose to 20% this year from 19% a year earlier.

It’s smartphone growth that’s driving the handset market and the success of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones has helped propel the South Korean electronics maker to the top. Conversely, Nokia is being pulled down by the death of Symbian handset sales and the struggle to ignite the transition to Windows Phone from Microsoft. Apple, meanwhile, is limited in its range of phones while Samsung has an array of feature and smartphones.

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,  own 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.

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