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Samsung targets half a billion handset sales in 2013

Samsung thinks it can sell more than half a billion mobile phones in 2013, according to a report from a South Korean newspaper that's been picked up by several media outlets.

The South Korean tech giant anticipates moving a whopping 510 million handsets next year, including 390 million smartphones, an unnamed source at a "key" Samsung supplier told the Korea Times recently. If the company pulls off that feat, it would be a 20 per cent increase from Samsung's estimated 2012 sales of 420 million handsets, according to the newspaper.

The full figures for 2012 aren't in yet, but the Korea Times aggregated several research firms' numbers for the first three quarters and placed Samsung's handset shipments for those nine months at roughly 288 million, with the holiday quarter to go.

The newspaper cited sources in Samsung's Asian supply chain as saying that in 2013, the company "expects to manufacture 240 million [handsets] at its Vietnamese factory, 170 million in China, and 20 million in India to complement the 40 million to be produced in its Korean factory in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province."

Samsung's aggressive forecast on smartphones reflects the company's meteoric rise in the category with Android-based devices like its series of Galaxy-branded phones. Samsung sold fewer than a million smartphones in 2009, the newspaper noted, but had surged passed Apple to become the top smartphone maker in the world by the third quarter of 2011.

Since entering the smartphone market four years ago, Samsung's annual sales figures went from roughly 600,000 units in 2009 to 23.9 million in 2010 to 97.4 million in 2011, and could top 400 million this year.

By the third quarter of 2012, Samsung held a 32.5 per cent share of the global smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in that three-month period, according to Gartner. Overall, Gartner pegged the company as selling nearly 98 million handsets of all kinds in the third quarter, and Samsung itself anticipates selling 120 million feature and budget phones in 2013 in addition to its aggressive smartphone sales forecast, the Korea Times reported.

Other research firms, including IHS iSuppli, are anticipating that Samsung will pass Nokia as the top seller of mobile phones of all stripes in 2012, ending the Finnish company's nearly 15-year reign as the top handset manufacturer in the world.

Gartner has projected sales of more than one billion smartphones and tablets from all vendors in 2013, up from the 821 million smart gadgets the firm is estimating will have been sold in 2012.