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Samsung Beats Nokia and Apple as Top Phone Maker
Samsung Beats Nokia and Apple as Top Phone Maker

By Adam Dickter
April 29, 2012 8:48AM

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We asked mobile industry analyst Alex Spektor of Strategy Analytics how Samsung managed to beat both Nokia and Apple to the number one spots. Samsung has gone on the offensive over the past few years, he said, moving with the trends, and producing winning devices like the Galaxy Note, Google Nexus, Droid Charge, and Galaxy S II.
 



The mobile phone market is abuzz with news that Samsung has become the global leader of smartphones as well as handsets, based on first quarter information polled from the vendors themselves. Q1 results in the handset category indicate that Samsung has taken the top spot away from Nokia after a 14-year reign. And, in the smartphone market, Samsung surpassed Apple, beating iPhone's 24 percent with an impressive 31 percent market share.

With winning devices such as the Galaxy Note, Google Nexus, Droid Charge, and Galaxy S II, Samsung smartphone shipments rose by a whopping 253 percent to 44.5 million, while handset unit shipments totaled 93 million. That's a 36 percent spike from the first quarter of last year. The Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note have been especially popular, contributing significantly to Samsung's growth in the smartphone category.

In comparison, Nokia's handset market share fell annually from 30.4 percent to 22.5 percent, while its smartphone market share plummeted from 23.5 percent to 8.25 percent. The results leave Apple and Samsung together controlling more than half the smartphone market.

Overall, the handset market grew by a modest 3 percent while the smartphone market grew by a more substantial 41 percent, compared with the first quarter of 2011.

How Has Samsung Prevailed?

We spoke at length with Alex Spektor, Associate Director of research firm Strategy Analytics, about Samsung's latest success increasing market share.

"Just five years ago, Samsung took the No. 2 spot from Motorola, and at the time, it seemed like it was impossible for anyone to overtake Nokia," Spektor said. "But times have really changed. The smartphone market took off and Nokia was not able to react to the market quickly enough."

Spektor points out that the historic leaders in the smartphone market have been Nokia as well as RIM, with the ever-popular BlackBerry. "They already had a strategy and market position and a product portfolio. When you already have something in the market, you are playing defensive games, as opposed to Samsung, who really went on the offensive for the past few years, which enabled them to move with the trend."

The Android Factor

We asked Spektor how Samsung's embrace of the Android platform has contributed to its recent success.

"Android gave Samsung a quick opportunity to get as close to functionality of the iPhone as possible. The application ecosystem grew very quickly and the user interface was strong. It provided a good browsing experience and a good touch experience, which really enabled Samsung to offer a strong alternative to the iPhone." (continued...)

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