Samsung Ends Nokia’s 14-Year Reign As Top Handset Maker

April 13, 2012Investingby EW News Desk Team


South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is said to have, for the first time, overtaken Nokia’s 14-year leadership in global handset sales. According to a poll by analysts, Samsung sold 9 million handsets more than the Finnish company in the first quarter of 2012.

Bloomberg’s latest estimates show that Asia’s largest electronics maker, Samsung, may have shipped 92 million mobile phones, surpassing Nokia’s 83 million units for the first three months of 2012.

Analysts say the 9-million gap is expected to end Nokia’s 14-year reign in the global mobile phone industry.

Nokia had announced its sales report on Wednesday, warning that the company could incur losses from its handset business in the first half of this year.

Speaking to Reuters, industry analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight said:

After 14 years as the largest global mobile phone maker, getting knocked off the top spot will come as a bitter blow to Nokia. In contrast it will be greeted with euphoria by Samsung - they'll be dancing from the boardroom to the factory floor.

Back in 1998, Nokia overtook Motorola as the world’s largest handset maker and subsequently controlled 40 percent of the market for almost a decade. In 1998, Samsung had just entered the industry.

Today, Samsung is the largest maker of mobile phones, and accounts for about 26 percent of all US handset sales.

Apple, who joined the industry with the introduction of its iPhone in 2007, is currently the third largest handset maker, behind Samsung and Nokia.

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While Samsung has been benefitting from the popularity of its Galaxy phones that run on Google’s Andriod operating system, and Apple with its own operating system, Nokia has been slowing losing ground with its once-ubiquitous Symbian software, and cutting its workforce to protect its bottom line.

Lee Sun Tae, a Seoul-based analyst at NH Investment and Securities told Bloomberg:

Samsung is displacing Nokia fast. Nokia, with no competitiveness in smartphones, will keep losing ground.

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