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Samsung to overtake Nokia as smartphone No. 1

Samsung is set to overtake Nokia as the world's largest smartphone maker this quarter, according to research published today by analyst Nomura which predicts the troubled Finnish mobile giant will sink into third place behind iPhone 4 maker Apple.

The Nomura forecast sees Nokia lose its grip on the top spot, which it has held since 1996 - and predicts further competition in the remaining months of the year.

"Nokia looks set to relinquish its smartphone crown to Samsung and Apple," says Nomura analysts. "Further emphasising the shift in power to Asia is our forecast for HTC to almost match Nokia during 2012."

Nokia's dominance of the smartphone category, which it single-handedly invented in 1996 with the release of its Communicator model, has been sliding in recent years as the company's Symbian operating system has been overtaken by the iPhone's iOS platform and the open-source Google Android OS.

The company is pinning its hopes for revival on a recently-inked agreement with Microsoft to develop handsets for the software giant's Windows Phone 7 operating system - the first time Nokia has used another company's platform.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop last week denied rumours that the $1 billion deal could be the prelude to a Microsoft takeover.

Shares in Nokia recently slumped to a 13-year low after the company was forced to ditch financial forecasts just weeks after they had been set.

In spite of its difficulties, Nokia still remains the largest producer of mobile phones by volume in the world. The Finnish manufacturer still enjoys a strong grip on the market in more basic handsets, particularly among emerging economies.