Nokia loses global cellphone lead to Samsung for first time since 1998

Nokia loses global cellphone lead to Samsung for first time since 1998

Summary: Samsung is a force in the smartphone world and just ousted Nokia for the global cellphone lead, which Nokia has led since 1998.


The first quarter is always a bit slow after the big holiday mobile phone season, but today we see data that brings a tear to my eye. According to IHS data, Nokia lost the global cellphone lead for the first time since 1998 as Samsung overtook them with 92 million cellphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012. Apple still leads in smartphone sales, but Samsung is in second there too and is the new force to be reckoned with.

I have been a fan of Nokia phones for about 10 years, but the times are changing and I have to admit I was a bit surprised by this news. I know that Nokia has fallen quickly in the smartphone market, but thought their Series 40 cellphones would keep them in the global cellphone lead for some time. Samsung now claims the title of global cellphone leader and I imagine that will continue to grow with their feature phones and Bada phones.

This quote from the report is quit telling, "Smartphones represented 34 percent of Samsung's handset shipments in the first quarter. In contrast, smartphones accounted for just 14 percent of Nokia’s shipments."

In the smartphone market, Apple shipped 35 million phones with Samsung right behind at 32 million. Nokia is down 39% to just 12 million smartphones sold in the first quarter and has their work cut out with their focus on Windows Phone that is having serious issues gaining consumer adoption. IHS stated that there was no data provided yet for HTC or Motorola since they haven't posted their first calendar quarter results for 2012, but neither of these companies will be fighting it out for one of the top two spots anyway.

With the Galaxy S III announcement coming next week and a new iPhone likely several months away, it is likely that Samsung will pass Apple in the smartphone market soon as well.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility, Nokia, Samsung

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  • Witnessing a Collapsing Company

    It's obvious Nokia is in dire straits, with ratings agencies (eg Moodys and Fitch's) downgrading Nokia's stock to junk status. It can't go lower.

    I predict Nokia as we know it will end, the company will get broken up, with the smartphone business sold to either Apple, Microsoft or Google to be pillaged for its patents.
    • And that would....

      And that would be just how capitalism system (should) work(s). Even big corporations like Nokia should go to bankrupt and left overs be sold to new start up companies (NOT TO EXISTING COMPETITORS!) what would rise to balance markets.
      • Why "startups"? If they don't have the money they don't play right?

        So yeah those "with" the money to play would logically and I would think under capitalism would be the one's to ahem PROFIT from a failure of a competitor. Survival of the fittest not a hand up too a newbie.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • And that is what happens when you do not embrace new technologies

      and operating systems sooner. Why did it take Nokia so long to realize that Symbian was a dying phone OS?

      Tim Cook
    • Nokia is along way from being broken up. They were late but not too late

      and they've turned the corner now. They are looking at a serious rise in the US once they get their Verizon LTE phone models out.
      Johnny Vegas
    • Nokia's future doesnt look good

      With their OS dead and WP7 being DOA and Win8 most likely also being DOA i dont see what will save them. They are on their way out with RIM.
      • It looks much better then you suspect

        Nokia was on a downward spiral until they adopted WP7. Now they are beeing talked about once again in a positive manner.

        They may have been late, but still, they have made all the right moves.
        Tim Cook
  • Just made the switch myself.

    Just bought an unlocked Samsung Google Galaxy Nexus to replace my older unlocked Nokia E71. First 12 hours with it have most of the older apps/functions replace and up and running as well as quite a few new pieces of functionality Flash 10.x apps/video, Infrastructure mode Wifi tethering, Netflix, Tunein Radio, Sirius/XM radio, etc... that were not possible on older Nokia, and mostly not possible on newer Nokia (Symbian or Windows Phone). I don't suspect I am going to be disappointed in this new phone at all. I will likely keep the Nokia around for a dedicated in-car GPS and an emergency phone as it has Wifi for doing some basic tasks. Probably will miss the Physical Qwerty Keyboard the most. Good luck to Nokia in whatever it does next, but there were just too many reasons not to select another Nokia phone (after 15 years of owning nothing but Nokia). Hope they strongly consider resurrecting Meego or have luck in bringing Windows Phone along.
  • Nokia Lumina 900

    I am keeping hope alive for Nokia. I just made the switch to the Nokia Lumina 900 from an Iphone 4. And I love this phone, the live tiles coupled with the mango interface is very appealing. I was bored with the IOS platform and needed a switch.
  • Sumsungs crappy plastic build quality makes them an easy target for Nokia

    to jump back ahead of. The Nokia 900s are incredible, even put iphones a couple notches below now. And the HTC Titan II is pretty solid as well. Samsungs quality is ok for the emerging market feature phones but their galaxy smart phones are really junky. Their basically down fighting for the bottom with motorola.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Except high-tech polymers are vastly superior to cheap metal & glass

      Hence explaining the 'drop tests' reliability & survival rates of Samsung Galaxy superphones.

      Far better Radio Frequency transmission characteristics.
      Far better resiliency & durability.
      Also lighter.

      Perhaps that's why 'plastic carbon-fiber' cars (chassis included) are ultra-esoteric? And bullet-proof vests are made of Kevlar? How about expensive tennis rackets or golf clubs? Metal or plastic? You know the answer to that.

      How much does a can of aluminum pop or beer costs? Does a Pringle box makes a good antenna?
  • Nihon wa

    What happened to the Japanese?

    Seriously. It wasn't that long ago that Japanese companies dominated every corner of the consumer electronics industry, a decent part of the computer business, and some segments of semiconductors.

    Now ? Not so much. The Koreans are even kicking their butts in the car business. How does a whole country lose its mojo?
    Robert Hahn
    • Apparently, the only constant is change. Even for Apple.

    • Well

      The Koreans have taken over some of their lead, but Japan's car industry is making a nice comeback.
  • Nokia

    With the Lumia 900 a blazing success in the US it's just a matter of time for Nokia to get back into the game. Even Steve Wozniak choses his Lumia 900 over any Android phone...

    Windows Phone will grab a lot of marketshare from Android. iPhone will be more difficult, but Nokia is on to something here. Now just to get those Lumia 900's out Internationally and I'll be rocking one too....hopefully I would be able to get the white one.
    • Ding dong

      Aren't you the guy who told us that Windows 8 is a "fortress" and "brilliant in every way"? While doing so, didn't you use the term "fast and fluid" to describe the Metro interface, just like all the Munchkins do?

      Which raises the issue: aren't you a Munchkin?
      Robert Hahn
  • W!E!L!C!O!M!E!..........

    as Alfred implied I am surprised that a mom able to get paid $5237 in a few weeks on the internet. have you read this site <b><b>
  • Expected

    Samsung is a strong company and this was expected. But it's a mistake to count out Nokia. To develope a smartphone take about 2 year before the release to the market.
    And Nokia are just in the beginning of that process with the Lumia models. I know they are late but not to late.
    So there are probably many new models coming (Nokia 610 NFC for example), especially with the Windows Phone Apollo. They got strong support by Microsoft to.
    So I think Nokia will be among the top in future to.
    I have made the switch from Android to Windows Phone, and im not missing Android.
  • This was a long time coming...

    Stephen Elop has no idea what he's doing. His decisions have cost Nokia dearly.
  • teem

    hehe nokia..... chkout this blog....
    meet oza