Samsung takes top position from Apple in smartphones sales

Nokia has experienced a drop in sales, but still retains its dominance in mobile device market share

Samsung sold the most smartphones in the first quarter of 2012, taking the top position from Apple, according to Gartner.

Samsung sold 38 million smartphones around the world, representing more than 40 per cent of Android-based smartphones globally.

Apple sales worldwide also grew, increasingly 96.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. According to Gartner, this was driven by strong demand in China, with the country now the second largest market for the iPhone after the US.

Overall, smartphone sales increased 44.7 per cent year-over-year to reach 144.4 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Samsung and Apple now capture 49.3 per cent of the smartphone market, compared to 9.2 per cent for Nokia.

“Smartphone sales are becoming of paramount importance at a worldwide level. For example, smartphone volumes contributed to approximately 43.9 per cent of overall sales for Samsung, as opposed to 16 per cent for Nokia,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Samsung was also the highest selling mobile provider, with mobile phone sales increasing 25.9 per cent from last year to 86.6 million. The vendor takes the number one position from Nokia, which loses its position for the first time since 1998.

Nokia experienced a 22.7 per cent drop in mobile handsets compared to the first quarter of 2011. However, the vendor still has market dominance in overall mobile device sales, coming in at number one with 25.1 per cent of the market, compared to Samsung’s 16.1 per cent and Apple’s 3.9 per cent.

Globally, mobile phone sales dropped 2 per cent to 419.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. It is the first time since the second quarter of 2009 that sales have dropped, a result of demand slowing down in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Gupta.

“The first quarter, traditionally the strongest quarter for Asia – which is driven by Chinese New Year – saw a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year,” Gupta said.

Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner, said the lower results means increased cautiousness for the rest of the year.

“The continued roll-out of third generation (3G)-based smartphones by local and regional manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, Yulong and TCL Communication should help spur demand in China,” Zimmerman said.

“In addition, the arrival of new products in mature markets based on new versions of the Android and Windows Phone operating systems, and the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 will help drive a stronger second half in Western Europe and North America.

“However, as we are starting to update our market forecast we feel a downward adjustment to our 2012 figures, in the range of 20 million units, is unavoidable.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

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