Samsung, as Apple and
Nokia are all too aware, is on a hot streak. During the first quarter of 2012,
Samsung’s smartphones accounted for 40 percent of all Android-based phones sold
globally, while no other Android-supporting vendor achieved better than a 10
percent representation, according to a May 16 report from Gartner.
Overall, smartphone sales
rose 45 percent year-over-year, with 144.4 million units shipping during the
first quarter of 2012. Lagging feature phone sales, however, caused the overall
mobile phone market to decline by 2 percent—its first decline since the second
quarter of 2009, according to the firm.
Samsung overtook Nokia for
the No. 1 spot, as IHS
iSuppli said in an early estimate in April, shipping 86.6 million units
to Nokia’s 83.2 million. Apple followed the pair, with shipments of 33.1
million iPhones, and behind it came ZTE, on shipments of 17.4 million units,
and LG, with 14.7 million units.
BlackBerry maker Research
In Motion finished in seventh place, behind Huawei but ahead of Motorola and
Sony Mobile Communications, respectively.
phones accounted for 56.1 percent of all smartphone sales, Gartner analysts
believe that differentiation is becoming a challenge for manufacturers. Motorola
CEO Sanjay Jha, among other executives, has spoken to this point,
saying Motorola plans to release fewer but more differentiated devices. Likewise,
a spokesperson for ATT, at the launch of the HTC
One X, said a focus on design, a strong camera and the collaboration
with Beats Audio were ways HTC had looked to differentiate that device.
“This is particularly true
for smartphones based on the Android OS, where a strong commoditization trend
is at work and most players are finding it hard to break the [mold],” Anshul Gupta,
a Gartner principal research analyst, said in the report.
“At the high end, hardware
features coupled with applications and services, are helping differentiation,
but this is restricted to major players with intellectual-property assets,”
Gupta added. “However, in the mid- to low-end segment, price is increasingly
becoming the sole differentiator. This will only worsen with the entry of new
players and the dominance of Chinese manufacturers, leading to increased
competition, low profitability and scattered market share.”
Strong Apple iPhone
sales—shipments increased by 96.2 percent year-over-year—came with, thanks to China,
Apple’s No. 2 market behind the United States. China accounted for sales of 5
Additionally, Gartner added,
“On top of the sales through official carriers’ channels, there was an increase
in transshipments from Hong Kong, where volume has been growing over the past
year, to reach a sell-in of more than 3 million units.”
With China Mobile, the
world’s largest carrier, in talks with Apple to officially
offer the iPhone, the importance of China to Apple, and the mobile
industry on the whole, is likely to intensify.
Again showing their
impact, China, and the Asia-Pacific region on the whole, were also contributors
to the quarter’s overall lackluster results. While Chinese
New Year generally helps to make the first quarter the strongest in Asia
(again, a boon for the world market, which usually experiences an aggressive
dip after the high of the fourth-quarter Western holidays), a lack of new phone
launches from leading manufacturers caused users in Asia to delay upgrades,
said Gartner, “in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year.”
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Approximately 40 percent of the Android-based smartphones sold during the first quarter were produced by Samsung, according to new stats from Gartner. No other vendor nabbed more than 10 percent of the global market.
Overall, some 81 million Android-based smartphones were sold during the quarter for 56.1 percent of the market, up from 36.4 percent during the same time period last year. Apple’s iOS came in second place with 22.9 percent of the market, up from 16.9 percent last year.
Symbian held on in third place with 8.9 percent, but that was a drop from 27.7 percent last year. RIM also took a dip, from 13 percent in 2011 to 6.9 percent in the first quarter. Samsung’s bada platform bested Microsoft, with 2.7 percent to 1.9 percent, respectively.
In terms of overall cell phone sales, Samsung topped Nokia with 86.6 million units shipped and 20.7 percent of the market, a 25.9 percent year-over-year increase. Nokia sold 83.1 million for 19.8 percent of the market, down from 25.1 percent last year.
Apple landed at number three thanks to sales of its iPhone 4S. Cupertino sold 33.1 million smartphones during the quarter for 7.9 percent of the cell phone market, up from 3.9 percent last year.
Gartner said Apple sales were particularly strong in China, where it sold more than 5 million units to become the company’s second-biggest market after the U.S.
RIM sold 9.9 million handsets in the first quarter, with its global share dropping over the last year from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. “RIM desperately needs to deliver winning BB10 products to retain users and stay competitive,” Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “This will be very challenging, because BB10 lacks strong developer support, and a new BB10 device will only be available in the fourth quarter of 2012.”
Overall, cell phone sales dropped 2 percent during the quarter, the first time Gartner has seen a decline since the second quarter of 2009. The firm attributed the drop to lackluster sales in Asia, where the first quarter normally sees a pickup thanks to Chinese New Year. This year, however, there was “a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year,” Gupta said.
Things were a bit brighter on the smartphone front, where overall sales jumped 44.7 percent year-over-year.
Samsung’s next big release will be the Galaxy S III, which hits Europe later this month and the U.S. this summer. For more, see PCMag’s hands on with the device and the slideshow below. There are rumors, meanwhile, that Apple is prepping a 4-inch iPhone for a late 2012 release.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404497,00.asp
Samsung (005930) Electronics Co. sold more
than 40 percent of all Android mobile phones in the first
quarter as the South Korean manufacturer became the world’s
largest handset maker, research company Gartner Inc. said.
Global handset sales declined 2 percent to 419 million,
dragged down by a drop in low-end handsets, Stamford,
Connecticut-based Gartner said today in a report. Smartphone
sales rose 45 percent, the researcher said.
Samsung, which also makes screens and other hardware used
in smartphones, has profited from its ability to offer devices
running Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG)’s Android software at a wide range of
prices. Android is currently installed on 56 percent of new
smartphones, more than twice Apple Inc. (AAPL) (AAPL)’s share. The prospect of
even cheaper Android models led customers in Asia to postpone
purchases, the researchers said.
The market for users of feature phones, or low-end handsets
that can’t run a full range of applications, to upgrade to
similar devices “has declined more significantly than we
expected,” Anshul Gupta, a Mumbai-based analyst at Gartner,
said in an interview. “Consumers are holding onto their
feature-phone devices hoping for better smartphone deals coming
Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), which Samsung overtook as the world’s biggest
handset maker, fell as much as 3.2 percent to 2.20 euros and was
trading down 2.3 percent at 1:25 p.m. in Helsinki. Samsung
extended dropped 6.2 percent, the most in 3 1/2 years, to 1.23
million won at the close in Seoul, before the Gartner report was
The Gartner study measures sales to end users at operators
and retailers. No other vendor besides Samsung has more than a
10 percent share of Android handsets, the researcher said,
adding that the smartphone market has become “highly
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) (MSFT) software ran on 1.9 percent of handsets
sold in the quarter, compared with 2.6 percent a year earlier.
Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop has said his company
and Microsoft are trying to establish the Redmond, Washington-
based software maker’s Windows Phone as a “third ecosystem”
versus Android and Apple systems.
Nokia’s total handset market share declined to 19.8
percent. The Espoo, Finland-based manufacturer remained ahead of
Apple, which accounted for 7.9 percent of the market. The
proportion of smartphones running Symbian, Nokia’s older
operating system, fell to 8.6 percent, or about one-third of its
share a year earlier. Nokia’s total smartphone share, including
Windows Phone and the N9, was 9.2 percent, Gupta said.
“Economic uncertainty has really impacted markets like
western Europe, with smartphone upgrades declining,” Gupta
said. Nokia now has the third-largest share in the region,
behind Samsung and Apple, he said.
The researchers forecast that Windows Phone will be the
second-biggest smartphone system after Android by 2015,
displacing Apple’s iOS, Gupta said, reiterating earlier
Gartner lowered its full-year mobile-phone sales forecast
to 1.9 billion handsets, for growth of approximately 5.5
percent, including sales of 650 million smartphones,
representing a 38 percent jump. The research company earlier
forecast growth of 7 percent overall this year, with a 39
percent gain for smartphones.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kenneth Wong at