This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but for the first time Samsung has topped Nokia as the top cellphone supplier in the world. Also not surprising, Samsung has widened its lead over Apple in the smartphone class as well.
In a post that could be called “how the mighty have fallen”, Nokia has slipped to second place in cellphone shipments for this first time since 1998. That was a good run, but key missteps really cost Nokia. From iSuppli:
“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.”
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 far.
On the smartphone front, Samsung has widened its lead over Apple from 1% in 2011 to 8% this year (estimated). Hardly surprising really. We know Samsung does make great, popular (patent infringing—had to get that in there) phones that are widely available from a myriad of carriers. The smartphone wars are dominated by Apple and Samsung and I would expect it to continue to be so for at least the next year.
The thing is, that whenever you have two companies battling each other so intensely, there is always room for a third competitor to sweep in and steal the show from both of them. Right now I don’t see Nokia, RIM, or HTC pulling that off, but who knows what 2013 could bring.