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Samsung: We'll beat Nokia in handset shipments this year

CEO Choi Gee-sung says Samsung will see shipments rise again this year as the consumer electronics heavyweight overtakes Nokia's total shipments.

Samsung handset sales are on the rise.
Samsung handset sales are on the rise.

For years, Nokia has led all handset vendors in unit shipments. But this year, Samsung believes it can change that.

The company's chief executive, Choi Gee-sung, yesterday told Reuters in an interview in Las Vegas, where CES 2012 is taking place this week, that he believes his company's total handset shipments this year will be higher than those of Nokia's. He didn't say how many handsets Samsung expects to sell this year, but pointed to his company's strong shipment growth to bolster his point.

And what growth it has been. Just last month, Samsung announced that it had sold over 300 million handsets worldwide at the end of November. It was the first time the company had hit 300 million unit sales in its history. What's more, Samsung said that it was averaging 820,000 handset unit sales each day last year. Assuming that rate continued through December, it's possible total handset unit sales last year reached 325 million.

This year, according to a report last month in the Korea Economic Daily, Samsung expects to sell 374 million handsets worldwide.

"Samsung's ascendancy to the leadership position is the direct result of its broad and deep product portfolio," Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team, said in a statement in November. "Ever since the first Galaxy device launched last year, the company has aggressively expanded and refreshed its selection to include the latest innovations and most popular features."

Samsung's "ascendancy" has occurred as Nokia has watched its business decline. In 2010, the company sold 450 million handsets worldwide. But after announcing a precipitous shipment decline last year, the company said that it would no longer provide device sales forecasts. The move was designed to preserve its ailing stock price.

In another attempt to turn things around, Nokia last year announced a partnership with Microsoft that would make Windows Phone 7 the "principal" operating system in its line of products. Debate rages over whether or not Windows Phone 7 will be able to help Nokia, though.

But handset sales aren't the only good news at Samsung. Choi told Reuters yesterday that the company will likely reach its goal of $200 billion in annual sales much sooner than 2015, its initial estimate. Last week, Samsung said that it generated 164.7 trillion Korean won ($142.8 billion) in 2011.