Samsung leads the world for smartphones, Nokia drops out of global top 5

26 Oct 2012

The global smartphone market grew 2.4pc in the third quarter, according to IDC. Samsung and Apple led the world while Nokia dropped out of the list of the world’s top 5 smartphone vendors.

IDC reported a total of 444.5m mobile phones were shipped during the third quarter, up from 434.1m a year ago.

In terms of smartphones in particular, some 179.7m units were shipped in Q3, up from 123.7m last year.

Nokia has been replaced by Research In Motion as a top 5 smartphone player. Nokia’s exit from the top 5, where it had resided since the inception of IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004, was precipitated by the rise of Samsung and Apple globally and high-growth vendors like Huawei in China, where Nokia was the dominant player as recently as the third quarter of 2011.

“Nokia’s share losses have meant gains for competitors,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

“The company’s transition away from Symbian-powered smartphones to ones shipped with Windows Phone has left ample opportunity for rivals to steal share away from Nokia over the past 18 months. However, the smartphone market is still relatively nascent, which means there’s room for multiple vendors and operating systems to flourish, including Nokia.”


Winds of change

Nokia is not the only smartphone vendor in transition, added Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team.

“Research In Motion, although still a market leader, expects to start shipping its first BB10 devices in 2013. Motorola, once the No 3 smartphone vendor worldwide, is redirecting itself under its parent company Google. These are just two vendors among many that feel the competitive pressure of Samsung and Apple, but are striving to create multiple points of differentiation to assert upward pressure.”

Nonetheless, IDC expects long-term mobile phone and smartphone shipment demand to grow due to the central role mobile phones play in people’s lives.

“At the heart of mobility is communication,” noted Llamas.

“Mobile phones and smartphones play a critical role in keeping people connected, regardless of location. In addition, their utility beyond communication – productivity, entertainment, and multimedia – continues to add to their value,” Llamas said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years