Samsung at the top of the smartphone sales charts

Samsung Electronics has overtaken Nokia to become the world’s largest maker of mobile phones.Nokia took the top spot in 1998 from Motorola, but in the first quarter of 2012 Samsung shipped 93 million phones compared to almost 83 million by Nokia.

Samsung also reported its highest quarterly profit since 2008.

Net profit was £2.8 billion (5.05tn won) in the quarter ending 31 March, up 81% from £1.5 billion last year.

Samsung is also the world’s biggest TV and flat screen maker.

The firm said its IT and mobile communications division, which manufactures the smartphones, made an operating profit of £2.37 billion during the period, as revenues in the division surged 86% from a year earlier.

Global mobile handset shipments (Q1)
Company     Units (millions)     Market share
Samsung         93.5                           25.4%
Nokia               82.7                           22.5%
Apple               35.1                             9.5%
Other             156.7                          42.6%

Source: Strategy Analytics

Global demand for smartphones is expected to increase further in coming years, with research firm IDC forecasting that global smart phone shipments will rise by a third to 659.8 million units in 2012.

Samsung is facing stiff competition from rivals such as US-based Apple, Finland’s Nokia, and Taiwan’s HTC.  At the same time, falling prices have also hurt profitability in the sector.

Whilst all of the recent attention has been on Apple and their iPads and iPhones, the continuing growth of smartphones as the global convergent box of technology reminds us that the sands of consumer opinion continue to shift away from computers over the longer term.