Nokia still top mobile phone maker

Despite all the major setbacks and negative publicity Nokia has faced over the last year or so, it is still actually the #1 manufacturer of cell phones.

In 2011, the company managed to ship 417.1 million handsets around the world. That is a year-to-year increase of 14% and easily places it ahead of Samsung, Apple, Motorola, or anyone else.

This may seem hard to believe after all the terrible news Nokia has been dealt since the explosion of Android and the iPhone. Before Nokia teamed up with Microsoft and Windows Phone, it had become all but impossible to even see a Nokia phone on a store shelf in the US.

The company had to completely scrap its proprietary smartphone platform, Symbian. So how is it possible that Nokia is still on top?

The answer is that while Nokia has struggled in a big way to meet the changing smartphone market demands, it is still a power player in the “non-smartphone” business. That segment far outpaces smartphone shipments, especially when you look on a global scale.

There are entire chunks of the planet where Nokia has a virtual monopoly because no other manufacturer even wants to compete. Third-world countries where political climates are rough and money is low are not the most attractive areas, but they account for millions of Nokia’s customers.

Another footnote is that Nokia’s #1 status used to be unbelievably insurmountable. Now, it is still at the top but its competitors are gaining ground. With Windows Phone, it could rejuvenate its smartphone category and rise back to the levels where it used to be. Maybe.