Samsung beats Nokia as top cellphone brand

After 14 years as the world’s best-selling phone brand, Nokia has finally slipped from the top spot. Samsung’s taken over, with its market share hitting 29 percent, up from 24 percent last year.

According to the IHS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless Communications Service,  Nokia’s share has dropped to 24 percent, down from 30 percent last year.


“The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was ‘live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,’” says 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.”

Samsung’s done well from its ‘fast follower’ strategy, developing literally dozens of new smartphone models every year aimed at all segments of the market, from the high end to the low end.

Nokia, meanwhile, is still plodding through the process of migrating its smartphone line to the Windows operating system. Sales of its older Symbian-based phones have plunged, and its new Microsoft Windows 7-based handsets haven’t done much to make up for that so far.

Samsung’s also managed to see off Apple this year – although Apple’s only one percentage point behind. The two companies accounting for 49 percent of shipments between them in 2012, up from 39 percent in 2011. Next year, says IHS, they’re the only two vendors likely to hang onto  double-digit market shares.

As a whole, the smartphone market is still growing: indeed, next year, says IHS, smartphones are likely to become the donimant type, with 59 percent of the market. In 2012, global smartphone shipments shot up by 35.5, while overall cellphone shipments rose by just one percent.