IDC has confirmed that "Samsung became the new leader in the worldwide smartphone market" in the third quarter of 2011, with shipments "topping the 20 million unit mark for the first time". The US-based research company credits both Samsung's Android-based Galaxy range and its Bada-powered smartphones, while noting that it is expected to launch a new Windows Phone handset later this year.
Samsung's shipments grew by 223.3 percent to 23.6 million units, putting it ahead of Apple (17.1m units, up 17.3 percent), Nokia (16.8m units, down 36.6 percent), HTC (17.7m units, up 115.3 percent) and RIM (11.8m units, down 4.8 percent). Apple's numbers reflected the timing of the launch of it iPhone 4S, which could drive the company back into first place.
Shipments are not the same as sales, but Samsung's shipments were a substantial 6.5m units bigger than Apple's.
Smartphone market growth looks broadly based, with "Others" shipping 36.1m units, an increase of 117.5 percent compared with the same quarter last year. However, this market growth was less than expected. IDC said: "vendors shipped 118.1 million units in 3Q11 compared to 82.8 million units in the 3Q10. However, the 42.6 percent growth was lower than IDC's forecast of 49.1 percent for the quarter and lower than 2Q11 growth of 66.7 percent."
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement: "Vendors will struggle to maintain leadership of the global smartphone market this year given its continued high growth. Competitors will release smartphones with components such as 3D displays, dual-core processors, and enhanced audio capabilities that will help them drive higher shipment volumes and potentially leapfrog competitors."
Only a year ago, Nokia was by far the largest smartphone supplier, while Samsung was in fourth place.