Samsung is global king for smartphone shipments


Samsung posts record unit shipments, at 56.3 million, thrashing Apple's sale of 26.9 million iPhone's, which is better than expected

Samsung is king of the world in terms of smartphone shipments in the third quarter of 2012, according to the latest figures from Juniper Research and IDC.

In the worldwide smartphone market, vendors shipped 179.7 million units in the third quarter compared to 123.7 million units in the same period last year, said IDC. The 45.3% year on year growth was slightly above IDC's forecast of 45.2% for the quarter.

Samsung increased its lead in terms of unit shipments, commented Juniper. The Korea-based company shipped a record 56.3 million smartphones, representing almost double the market share of its rival Apple, Juniper said.

According to IDC, the worldwide mobile phone market overall grew 2.4% year on year in the third quarter of 2012, driven by heavyweights Samsung and Apple as Nokia dropped off the top five list of smartphone vendors. According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 444.5 million mobile phones in the third quarter, compared to 434.1 million units in the third quarter of 2011.

Samsung's flagship device, the Galaxy S3, played a key role in the company's shipment growth, with estimated sales of 18 million in the third quarter, noted Juniper. The research firm said the Galaxy S3 has been a phenomenal success for Samsung this year, bettering its sales over the previous quarter. Samsung has been highly effective in using its global brand strength and the popularity of the Android operating system to drive sales of smartphones in all price tiers, added Juniper.

Apple sold 26.9 million iPhone's in the quarter, a figure that was better than analysts expected for the iPhone maker. However, with the festive season still to come, and with a new and refreshed product line, including the iPhone 5, Apple is expected to better its sales in the fourth quarter Juniper said.

While Juniper added that ZTE shipped almost 20 million smartphones over the first three quarters, with third quarter sales exceeding both Nokia and RIM. Nokia's Windows devices have yet to make a significant impact, with the Finnish company shipping just 6.3 million smart devices in the third quarter, a 63% fall compared to the same quarter 2011. This was partly due to customers waiting to buy into the new Windows 8 platform due in the fourth quarter.

IDC added that the decline of Nokia, which was replaced by RIM as a top five smartphone player, was a big move in the third quarter this year. Nokia's exit from the IDC top five lead table was precipitated by the rise of Samsung and Apple globally and high growth vendors like Huawei in China, where Nokia was the dominant player as recently as the third quarter of 2011.

'Nokia's share losses have meant gains for competitors,' said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. 'The company's transition away from Symbian-powered smartphones to ones shipped with Windows Phone has left ample opportunity for rivals to steal share away from Nokia over the past 18 months. However, the smartphone market is still relatively nascent, which means there's room for multiple vendors and operating systems to flourish, including Nokia.'

RIM's recent results, which run to a different financial schedule, nevertheless hint at continuing problems for the Canadian firm with just 7.7 million quarterly smartphone shipments. Meanwhile Samsung's Android competitors including HTC and Motorola continue to fall short, Juniper claimed.

'Nokia is not the only smartphone vendor in transition,' commented Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team. 'RIM, although still a market leader, expects to start shipping its first BB10 devices in 2013. Motorola, once the number three smartphone vendor worldwide, is redirecting itself under its parent company Google. These are just two vendors among many that feel the competitive pressure of Samsung and Apple, but are striving to create multiple points of differentiation to assert upward pressure.'

Other smartphone vendors also posted disappointing shipments for the third quarter; LG posted a 24% quarter on quarter growth with a record seven million smartphone shipments. While LG has posted a profit for its smartphone business, it is still facing a challenge when competing against the likes of Apple and Samsung. Juniper claimed that LG needs to better its smartphone line up and rebuild its position within the second tier smartphone segment in order to improve profit margins and effectively to compete against players including Huawei, Motorola and HTC.

Nonetheless, IDC expects long term mobile phone and smartphone shipment demand to grow due to the central role mobile phones play in people's lives. 'At the heart of mobility is communication,' noted Llamas. 'Mobile phones and smartphones play a critical role in keeping people connected, regardless of location.'


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