After almost 14 years of being on top in the cellphone industry, Nokia has finally been unseated in 2012 by Samsung. Nokia has held the top spot in terms of cellphone shipments since the year 1998, but is now forced to be content with being number 2. (Note: This is all cellphone shipments — that means feature phones and smartphones combined, not just smartphones. Samsung has been #1 smartphone seller for almost a year now.)
We’ve all seen how the industry has rapidly changed over the last couple of years — mostly due to the rise of the smartphone. This is also why the current charts of iSuppli, a hardware research firm, are not too surprising.
Nokia’s strength was always its variety of feature phones placed at a wide range of price points. But because of the popularity of smartphones these days, a company like Samsung which offers some of the most popular smartphones in the market along with the wide range of features phones, can easily take the market by storm. Nokia never really gained a foothold in the smartphone market, and they have now placed their bets on the still fledgling Windows Phone OS of Microsoft.
Note that while Apple may be almost 20 points behind its biggest rival Samsung, the company only offers smartphones — catering only to the high-end market segment. It’s a testament to the popularity of the iPhone that Apple is even in the top 5, because all the other companies in it offer both smartphones and cheaper, more affordable feature phones which sell in higher volumes than smartphones.
With Samsung offering a wider range of phones, Apple is gonna have to do a lot to catch up. But as the market slowly shifts toward more smartphones, these charts will start to get pretty interesting in the next couple of years.