Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Samsung tops Apple in global mobile phone shipments

Samsung is on a tear and dominating worldwide mobile phone shipments, according to two market research firms. Nokia is losing steam in a hurry.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
Samsung Galaxy S II.
Samsung Galaxy S II. Samsung

Samsung's smartphone shipments soared over the same period last year, allowing it to easily grab the lion's share of the global market, while Nokia's share plummeted, a market researcher said Thursday. Another market researcher put Samsung No.1 in the overall cell phone market.

The South Korean electronics giant's share went from 12.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to a whopping 30.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to Strategy Analytics (see chart below).

Apple's growth isn't too shabby either: it jumped from an 18.1 percent share last year (which at that time was larger than Samsung's) to 24.1 percent.

Overall global smartphone shipments grew 41 percent annually to reach 145 million units in the first quarter of 2012. More than half of that being Samsung and Apple combined.

"Samsung and Apple are outcompeting most of their major rivals and the smartphone market is at risk of becoming a two-horse race," Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Samsung's growth is coming from its Galaxy models, among other products. "Samsung's global smartphone shipments rose 253 percent annually...as demand surged for its popular Galaxy models such as the Note, S2 and Y," Strategy Analytics said.

Strategy Analytics

The loser in all of this is Nokia, whose share dropped like a rock from 23.5 percent in the first quarter of last year to 8.2 percent this year.

"This is Nokia's lowest market share level in the smartphone category since 2002," Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "Nokia's new Microsoft Lumia portfolio has recently gotten off to an encouraging start in the critical United States market, but shipments there are not yet large enough to offset the firm's tumbling Symbian volumes in the rest of the world."

iSuppli puts Apple at No. 1 in smartphones but Samsung No. 1 in the larger cell phone market

A second market research firm, IHS iSuppli, ranks Apple No.1 in smartphone market, while placing Samsung in the No.1 spot for cell phones (see charts below).

In the "smartphone segment of the cell phone market," iSuppli shows Apple shipping 35 million units in the first quarter, while Samsung shipped 32 million.

"Apple remained in the same position in smartphones that it captured in the fourth quarter of 2011 -- at No. 1 --while Samsung held on to second place," iSuppli said.

That said, iSuppli ranks Samsung No.1 overall in the cell phone market, with 92 million cell phones shipped in the first quarter, compared to Nokia's 83 million.