Though we’ve seen it coming for quite some time, the day may finally be here: Samsung’s handset sales may have eclipsed Nokia’s, making it the world’s most popular cell phone manufacturer in the world. Two days ago, Nokia revealed that it sold about 71 million mobile phones and 12 million smartphones, adding up to about 83 million device sales for the last three months.
Though Samsung doesn’t reveal its sales data until April 27, estimates tallied by CNET indicate that analysts expect it has sold between 85 and 92 million handsets during the last three months, putting it squarely ahead of Nokia for the first time ever.
Nokia has been the world’s number one mobile phone manufacturer for 14 years straight — since 1998. That means it’s pretty much been the top handset maker since, well, the dawn of the actual cell phone market. Mobile phones have only gone mainstream in the last 10 years.
The journey to the top is even more remarkable for Samsung, a South Korean manufacturer, which has gone from being perceived as a budget device maker to a top electronics maker in almost every category it has joined in the last decade or so, holding solid positions in laptop sales, TV sales, mobile phones, tablets, and a number of other markets, like component production (screens, etc).
Nokia has been under fire for a while, as its smartphone business has lagged behind its competitors due to the growth of new smartphone operating systems around the world like Android and iOS. Nokia’s home-grown Symbian OS has not been able to keep up, a cold reality which forced the company to sign a huge deal with Microsoft last year to begin relying on Windows Phone as its premium OS for smartphones.
We’ll update you when official numbers are out, and apologize in advance if we’re being presumptuous, but it seems that 2012 may be the year Nokia ends its reign on top, at least for a while.