Apple and Nokia Dethroned By This Growth Monster

Gartner Inc.’s quarterly report on mobile phone sales trends for the first quarter of 2012 reveals that the baton has been passed: Samsung displaced Nokia (NYSE:NOK) as the top global mobile handset vendor, a position Nokia held since 1998. Samsung sold 86.6 million mobile phones globally in the quarter, up a whopping 26 percent from the year earlier.

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Perhaps more impressive, Samsung also clawed back its No. 1 smartphone spot from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), selling 38 million smartphones globally during the quarter. Smartphones drove most of the growth in the overall mobile phones market – sales were up 45 percent year-over-year to 144.4 million units. Samsung’s Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android handsets claimed over 40 percent of the quarterly global Android smartphones.

The global pecking order in overall mobile sales during the first quarter of 2012 reads: Samsung 20.7 percent, Nokia 19.8 percent, Apple 7.9 percent, all others 51.6 percent. Of note here is that Nokia’s mobile handset sales declined by 22.7 percent year-over-year, while Apple’s sales grew by a huge 96.2 percent, boosted by the iPhone 4S, which was released in October 2011.

However, it must be noted that worldwide sales of mobile phones declined 2 percent in the quarter, compared to the year-ago period. Significantly, this is the first decline seen since that in the second quarter of 2009. “Global sales of mobile devices declined more than expected due to a slowdown in demand from the Asia/Pacific region,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “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.”

Gartner’s figures for smartphone operating systems show that Google’s Android was top of the heap in the first quarter of 2012, with 56.1 percent share, while the the iOS was next with 22.9 percent and the “others” category accounted for the remaining 21 percent.

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