Samsung has stolen the crown from Nokia to become the world's largest maker of mobile handsets, according to new data from research firm IHS iSuppli.
Samsung's victory marks the end of a 14-year reign for Nokia, which has occupied the top seat in the global cellphone market since 1998. The Finnish handset maker in 2012 grabbed 24 percent of the market, down from the 30 percent share it nabbed last year, but still enough to claim the runner-up spot. Samsung, meanwhile, saw its share of the handset market grow to 29 percent this year, up from the 24 percent it captured in 2011, and enough to propel it to the No. 1 seat.
Apple claimed the third spot after Nokia, IHS iSuppli said, with 10 percent market share, followed by ZTE with 6 percent and LG with 4 percent.
Unsurprisingly, the fastest-growing segment of the handset market this year was smartphones, with global shipments expected to rise by 35.5 percent, according to IHS iSuppli.
"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,' " said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS iSuppli, in a statement. "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 dominated the smartphone market as well, accounting for 28 percent of the global market compared to the 20 percent it held last year. The Korean tech giant widened its lead against rival and runner-up Apple, which held a 20 percent share.
Nokia, HTC and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion tied for the third spot, each holding a 5 percent share of the global smartphone market. The beleaguered Nokia, which held 16 percent in 2011, saw the biggest year-on-year drop.
IHS iSuppli attributed Nokia's fall to the fact that its Windows Phone-based smartphones have yet to gain traction among consumers. Sales of Nokia's older smartphone models, based on its homegrown Symbian OS, have plummeted, and its Windows Phone-based models have failed to pick up the slack, the firm said.
Looking ahead, IHS iSuppli said it expects the smartphone segment of the mobile handset market to continue to grow, likely accounting for 56 percent of all cellphone sales by the end of 2013.
PUBLISHED DEC. 19, 2012