Bad news for Nokia just keeps on coming. After spending fourteen consecutive years at the top, Nokia slipped behind Samsung in global mobile handset shipments in Q1 2012. Latest report from Strategy Analytics suggests that Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter (36 percent more than a year earlier), even as Nokia slipped by 24 percent to 82.7 million units. Apple was a distant third with 35.1 million shipments; however, even that is an achievement as Apple only sells premium smartphones. The mobile phone market itself grew by 3 percent.
Nokia snatched the crown of the world’s top mobile manufacturer from Motorola in 1998. During the first half of the previous decade, Nokia went from strength to strength as it released supremely popular devices like the N95. However, ever since iPhone turned the smartphone world on its head, Nokia has been busy playing catch-up. Its experiments with Maemo and Meego didn’t achieve commercial success, and it’s now clinging onto Windows Phone in a battle for survival. Samsung on the other hand has had one record breaking quarter after another thanks to the strength of its Galaxy series. Nokia is being pushed to the brink even in the feature-phone segment, which has traditionally been its stronghold, by Chinese and Indian competitors like ZTE and Micromax.
The dominance of Samsung and Apple also points towards shifting dynamics in the mobile segment. Smartphones are no longer premium, niche devices. They have become the primary cash cows. Strategy Analysts believes that Samsung shipped almost 10 million more smartphones than Apple, but iSupply believes that Samsung is still trailing Apple in smartphone segments by 3 million. Samsung is currently preparing to release its next blockbuster – the Galaxy S3, on May 3.