Bloomberg News

Samsung Ends Nokia’s 14-Year Run as Biggest Handset Maker

April 27, 2012

Models display a new Galaxy S II LTE smartphone, manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co. in Tokyo, Japan. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Models display a new Galaxy S II LTE smartphone, manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co. in Tokyo, Japan. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) overtook Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) as the world’s biggest vendor of mobile phones for the first time, ending the Finnish company’s 14-year run as the global leader, according to an industry study.

Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter, 36 percent more than a year earlier, compared with 82.7 million for second-ranked Nokia, researcher Strategy Analytics said in a statement today. Demand for Galaxy smartphones helped Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung post first-quarter net income today of 5.05 trillion won ($4.5 billion), beating analysts’ estimates.

Nokia had been the biggest mobile-phone maker by shipments since 1998, when the Espoo, Finland-based company took over the spot from Motorola Inc. (MMI:US) Nokia reported a 1.34 billion-euro ($1.8 billion) first-quarter operating loss after handset sales slumped. Both smartphones and low-end handsets declined as Nokia’s aging portfolio was outpaced by handsets running Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android. Its handset shipments in China fell 62 percent.

“Last year Samsung became No. 1 in Europe while Nokia retained the No. 1 position in most emerging markets,” Tom Kang, a Seoul-based research analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a phone interview today. “In the first quarter, we expect Samsung took a lot of market share from Nokia in Asia. China and India were the two biggest markets where Samsung gained.”

Nokia Stock Drops

Nokia dropped as much as 2.5 percent to 2.69 euros, the lowest price in more than 15 years based on closing prices, and was trading down 0.6 percent as of 11:31 a.m. in Helsinki. Samsung gained 2.5 percent to a record 1,374,000 won at the close in Seoul.

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) is the world’s third-biggest maker of mobile- phones after shipments rose 89 percent to 35.1 million last quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

“Samsung will probably still be No. 1 in the second quarter, but the full year will be a close call because the third and fourth quarters are traditionally Nokia’s best,” Kang said.

Samsung also regained the lead from Apple as the world’s biggest vendor of smartphones in the first quarter. Smartphone shipments surged 41 percent in the quarter, the analysts said.

The South Korean electronics maker shipped 44.5 million smartphones in the first three months of the year, giving it about 31 percent of the market, Strategy Analytics said. Apple shipped 35.1 million units, accounting for about 24 percent of the market, it said. Nokia ranked third in the segment.

Windows Phone Sales

Nokia said this month that its new smartphone line using Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s Windows Phone platform sold more than 2 million units in the first quarter out of 11.9 million smartphones that Strategy Analytics said the Finnish company had shipped.

Samsung accounted for about 25 percent of the global handset market by shipments, while Nokia’s market share was almost 23 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple’s market share was 9.5 percent, it said.

Global mobile-phone shipments rose 3.3 percent to 368 million last quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jun Yang in Seoul at jyang180@bloomberg.net; Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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