Samsung has reported its quarterly results. First, on its long journey towards the top as the world's biggest handset maker, we now heard from Strategy Analytics that Samsung has massively beaten Nokia's handset shipments in Q1, taking the crown. Samsung sold 93.5 million handsets in Q1 which gives the South Korean electronics giant 25% of the world's market share of mobile phone handsets. This compares to 82.7 million by Nokia at 23% market share. It is not just a slight lead, it is a clear blow-out, with a gap of more than 10 million, almost 11 million handsets. Congratulations to all at Samsung! This has been a long term hard fight and the gains have been in small steps and Nokia gave them a very strong fight over the years.
So it was 14 years of Nokia leadership in the most widely used technology ever seen on the planet. At its peak, there was a quarter in 2006 that Nokia had 40% of the global market for phones, and there were years when Nokia was as big as rivals numbers 2 and 3 combined, there were quarters where Nokia was as big as rivals number 2, 3 and 4 combined. Nokia had spread to be in the pockets of 1.3 Billion people, 19% of the total population alive on the planet. No other technology ever, indeed no brand is used by as many people as Nokia. Not Sony Walkmans or TVs, not Microsoft on the PC, not Coca Cola in drinks, not Levi's in blue jeans, not Bic in pens. But now that King has been toppled. The King is Dead, Long Live the King. Now Samsung will take over and build even a bigger footprint, as mobile phone handsets keep spreading to new first-time users in India, Africa, Latin America etc.
93.7 million handsets sold, means that Samsung ships one million handsets per day. It used to be that only Nokia did that level. But what of transition from dumbphones to smartphones. For Nokia currently only 14% of its handsets sold are smartphones, thus 86% are cheaper 'dumbphones'. Nokia is behind the curve of the global shift from dumbphones to smartphones, which is about 32% this Quarter. But Samsung? Samsung is now ahead of that curve, and 48% of all handsets sold by the Korean giant are already smartphones. Which brings us to our recurring story here on this blog, the Smartphones Bloodbath Year 3, the Digital Jamboree.
DIGITAL JAMBOREE NEW LEADER (AGAIN)
For 13 years Nokia was the global leader in making smartphones. Last year in Q1, Nokia was still the biggest smartphone maker. In Q2, that title was taken by Apple's iPhone. For Q3, Samsung took the lead. By Q4 Apple had surged again, powered by the iPhone 4S and it retook the lead, also taking the crown for annual sales of smartphones in 2011. Now for Q1, we see Apple's smartphone sales at 35.1 million, but Samsung reports in Q1 results, it sold 44.5 million smartphones. Samsung has re-taken the lead in smartphones. Samsung's market share is 28%. So the celebrations in Seoul are double for Samsung. This Quarter they became world's biggest handset maker, and simultaneously retook the lead in smartphones! Double congratulations to Samsung! And we hear the profits are very strong in the Samsung handsets unit, so this is done with a healthy business, won fair and square, not in slashing prices and buying market share. Excellent job Samsung, excellent!
We have now preliminary market shares for the Top 4 smartphone makers. They are still 'preliminary' because we don't know the full market size yet. I calculate that as an average of the smartphone quarterly sales as reported by the four big analyst houses who report on this industry (Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics and Canalys). And the battle is still unclear for the rest of the Top 10 manufacturers, so I will of course bring the full picture as soon as we have it. But the rough picture for Q1 looks like this in smartphones:
TOP 4 BIGGEST SMARTPHONE MAKERS GLOBALLY
1 Samsung . . . . . . . . . 44.5 million . . . . . 28% (23%)
2 Apple . . . . . . . . . . . . 35.1 million . . . . . 22% (24%)
3 Nokia . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.9 million . . . . . . 7% (12%)
4 RIM . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.1 million . . . . . . 7% ( 9%)
Other manufacturers . . . 57.4 million
TOTAL smartphones . . 160.0 million
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Estimate based on company data
This information may be freely shared
Coming from the Christmas Q4 Quarter gift-giving season, each of the other three in this top 4 reported declining unit sales of smartphones and their market share fell. Samsung showed strong growth through to Q1 growing 26% from the Quarter just before. This while the industry only grew about 3% by my estimate. In smartphones Samsung is simply devouring the global market.
Note this strong growth was achieved without a new Galaxy flagship, which is now expected to be announced as the Samsung Galaxy S3. This was in the context of the iPhone 4S still spreading to new markets such as having its China launch in January. And China indeed is the biggest growth market for Samsung where it seems to be replacing Nokia's past dominance. Samsung said its market share in China was bigger than its global average, suggesting Sammy's China share is now over 30%. Samsung had under 5% just two years ago in China, the world's largest smartphone market. Samsung also is doing extremely well regionally in published market data from Australia to India to Europe - even Nokia's home market Finland - to the USA.
My deepest most sincere congratulations to the Korean company of the Three Stars. This is a great day in Seoul and for all South Koreans. Now onwards and upwards! The world is your oyster. Let us have a great portfolio of the best handsets with the best user friendliness, the best features and functions, the best operating systems and their applications. This new decade is poised to become the Samsung decade. Congratulations!