Samsung’s swift success in the smartphone market has placed the manufacturer at the top of both the global cellphone and smartphone markets, according to December forecasts by market research firm IHS iSuppli. Once stable in its dominance, Nokia's position has steadily fallen, partly due to the company’s limited success in the smartphone market.
IHS iSuppli data indicated that Samsung accounted for 29% of worldwide cellphone shipments in 2012—up five percentage points from last year. Nokia, on the other hand, saw its 2011 lead of 30% market share drop down to 24% this year. Apple claimed the third-place slot again this year, but climbed several percentage points from 7% in 2011 to 10% in 2012.
IHS iSuppli made note of Samsung’s wise smartphone strategy of providing multiple devices at various price points. The manufacturer has fared well with both higher-priced devices on par with Apple’s iPhone, but also with low-cost alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy line. Given that smartphone adoption has begun to spread to the masses, Samsung’s appeal among both early adopters and first-time smartphone users has helped its position. Nokia, although once a leader in markets in Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has shrunk in popularity, partly due to its feeble positioning in the smartphone market. IHS iSuppli suggested Nokia has struggled to gain an audience as it transitioned its smartphone line from Symbian to the Windows operating system.
Examining smartphone shipments by OS provides another glimpse into Nokia’s decline. According to Q2 2011 and Q2 2012 shipment data by the Internatioanl Data Corporation’s (IDC) “Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker,” Symbian shipped 18 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2011. But one year later, that number had dropped to 6.8 million. This decline aligns with Nokia’s February 2011 announcement that it would transition off the Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows 7 for the Lumia devices.
Nokia’s partnership with Windows has thus far proved unsuccessful, as evident in the IDC smartphone shipment data. Although shipments of Windows phones doubled between Q2 2011 and Q2 2012 (from 2.5 million in 2011 to 5.4 million in 2012), the raw figures were extremely low, especially compared to Android’s 104 million shipments.
Marketers should take note of Samsung’s—and Android’s—quick rise to dominance. They should also keep a close eye on the marketplace, because, as evident in Nokia’s quick fall off the leaderboard, the smartphone device landscape is rapidly changing. While Samsung may remain the winner for now, changes in consumer preference, pricing and operating systems can quickly lead to shakeups in the market.
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