Samsung tops cellphone shipment list while Nokia continues slide

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Samsung has taken the top spot for 2012 cellphone shipments, overtaking Nokia (NYSE: NOK), which had held the top position for 14 years, according to the latest research from IHS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless Communications Service.

Samsung jumped 5 percentage points between 2011 and 2012 to take 29 percent of the total cellphone shipments this year, while Nokia dropped 6 percentage points to 24 percent of shipments. Apple was the only other handset supplier tracked by IHS iSuppli that increased its market share, jumping from 7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012.

"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone'. Smartphones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cellphone market--and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS.

Overall, smartphone shipments are expected to increase 35.5 percent in 2012, while overall cellphone shipments are expected to rise only 1 percent. Samsung also took the top spot in the smartphone segment, with 28 percent of total smartphone shipments in 2012, followed by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) with 20 percent, and Nokia with 5 percent.

IHS iSuppli attributed Samsung's success to its "fast follower" strategy for design and manufacturing of mobile devices. "The company produces dozens of new smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high end to the low end. Samsung monitors the big trends in smartphone design, user needs and unmet market opportunities, then creates products to fit those markets quickly and efficiently," the research firm noted.

By contrast, Nokia is "mired in transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company. Sales of the company's older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 7-based handsets haven't been able to make up for the loss so far," IHS iSuppli observed.

For more:
- see IHS iSuppli's data

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