The global smartphone market grew by 42.5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, as the worldwide mobile phone market declined 1.5%. According to market research firm IDC, vendors shipped a total of 398.4 million mobile phones in the first quarter compared to 404.3 million units in the same quarter last year. Samsung ousted longtime leader Nokia to become the world’s largest mobile phone vendor, and it topped Apple to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor. The South Korea-based vendor increased its profits by 82% to a record 5.05 trillion won in the first quarter, and shipped 42.2 million smartphones to capture 29.1% of the market according to IDC. Apple’s smartphone share grew around 6%, as the Cupertino-based company shipped 35.1 units to capture 24.2% of market.
“The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas,” said IDC senior research analyst Ramon Llamas. “Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched.”
Samsung and Apple’s gains have come at the expense of Nokia, Research in Motion and HTC. Nokia shipped a mere 11.9 million smartphones, down from 24.2 million, falling roughly 15% to capture only 8.2% of the global smartphone market. RIM’s share fell from 13.6% in the first quarter of 2011 to 6.7% last quarter, and HTC’s market share dropped from 8.9% to 4.8%.
Samsung’s smartphone growth also helped propel the company into the No.1 spot among all mobile phone vendors. The South Korean company saw year-over-year growth of 35.4%, shipping 93.8 million units, up from 69.3 in the same quarter of 2011, to capture 23.5% of the mobile market. Nokia shipped 82.7 million units, down from 100.5 in the first quarter of 2011, and saw its market share fall to 20.8% from 26.8%.
“The halcyon days of rapid growth in the smartphone market have been good to Samsung,” said IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo. “Samsung has used its established relationships with carriers in a mix of economically diverse markets to gain share organically and at the expense of former high fliers such as Nokia.”