Samsung dethrones Nokia to become top phone manufacturer of 2012

Samsung, maker of the uber popular Galaxy S3 smartphone, has overtaken Nokia for the first time in 14 years to become the top phone maker of 2012, according to new data from IHS iSuppli.

Samsung is expected to account for 29 per cent of worldwide cell phone shipments, up from 21 per cent in 2011, when it nabbed the No. 2 spot in the market. Meanwhile, Nokia's share will drop from 30 per cent to 24 per cent this year. Nokia had held the top spot in the mobile phone market since 1998.

Smartphones are the fastest-growing segment of the market, accounting for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments in 2012, Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, said in a statement. Global smartphone shipments are projected to rise by 35.5 per cent this year, while overall mobile shipments will increase just 1 per cent. Smartphone penetration for the year will hit 47 per cent, up from 35 per cent in 2011.

"The competitive reality of the cell phone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,'" Lam said. "Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cell phone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector."

Samsung has found success designing and manufacturing phones quickly, and releasing dozens of new models each year ranging from high-end to budget devices. Nokia, on the other hand, has been "mired" in transiting its smartphone lineup to the Windows operating system. Sales of the company's Symbian-based phones have plummeted, and its new Windows Phone-based handsets haven't been able to make up the difference.

Thanks to its winning strategy, Samsung is projected to again take the No. 1 spot in the smartphone market this year, after beating out Apple by just one percentage point of market share in 2011, according to IHS iSuppli. This year, Samsung will widen its lead, accounting for 28 per cent of global smartphone shipments, compared to Apple's 20 per cent.

"Samsung made significant gains in both the high end as well as the low-cost market with its Galaxy line of smartphones," IHS said. "This diversified market approach has allowed Samsung to address a larger target audience for its phones than Apple's limited premium iPhone line."

Smartphone penetration is projected to reach 59 per cent in 2013, marking a "significant tipping point" in the mobile market, with smartphones taking the dominant position in the industry.