After 14 years of Nokia topping the global list of phone sellers, Samsung has finally toppled the Finnish firm by selling 93 million phones in the first three months of 2012, reporting record profits in the process.
Back in 1998, Nokia became the largest phone seller in the world, overtaking the top spot Motorola. However, following a sharp decline in recent years, the Finnish company has been overtaken for the first time by Samsung.
According to statistics from Strategy Analytics, the South Korean smartphone manufacturer sold 93.5m handsets in the three months leading to the end of March, compared to 82.7m for Nokia. That represents growth of 36 percent for Samsung compared to the same period last year.
Apple remained in third place with shipments of 35.1million iPhones, while other manufacturers, inlcuding Motorola, ZTE, LG, HTC and Huawei have seen their share of the market drop, despite the trouble Nokia finds itself in, going from a 45 percent share of the market to 42.6 percent.
The success of phones in the Galaxy range, and in particular the continued success of the Galaxy S2, has led to significant growth for Samsung. The company is set to launch its latest flagship smartphone, rumoured to be the Galaxy S3, next Thursday in London.
Samsung reported profits of 5.05 trillion won (£2.75bn) for the first quarter of 2012, beating analysts' expectations. Executives said that the launch of the new smartphone would fuel its financial results during the current quarter.
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, "Nokia's global handset shipments declined a huge 24 percent annually to 82.7 million units in Q1 2012. Volumes were squeezed at both ends, as low-end-feature phone shipments in emerging markets stalled and high-end Microsoft Lumia smartphones were unable to offset the rapid decline of Nokia's legacy Symbian business. Nokia was the world's largest handset vendor between 1998 and 2011, for 14 years, before finally yielding its top position to rival Samsung this quarter."
Samsung Topples Apple In Smartphone Sales
Further research from Strategy Analytics reports that as well as passing Nokia in the overall phone list, Samsung also regained the top spot in the smartphone sellers list from Apple. Apple had previously overtaken Samsung as a result of its huge iPhone sales, but despite selling 35.1m iPhones in the first three months of 2012, Apple has dropped to second place.
Of Samsung's 93m total phone shipments, 44.5m were smartphones, giving it about 33 percent of the smartphone market. This represents growth of 253 percent compared to the same period last year when Samsung shipped just 12.6m smartphones. Apple, in second place in the smartphone market, has a 24 percent share, while Nokia is in third place with an 8.2 percent share of the smartphone market, down from 23.5 percent last year.
Overall global smartphone shipments rose 3.3 percent to 368 million last quarter according to the figures from Strategy Analytics.
Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics, said: "This is Nokia's lowest market share level in the smartphone category since 2002. Nokia's new Microsoft Lumia portfolio has recently gotten off to an encouraging start in the critical United States market, but shipments there are not yet large enough to offset the firm's tumbling Symbian volumes in the rest of the world."