Samsung leapfrogs Apple to take smartphone market’s top spot

Samsung is now the world’s leading smartphone maker, according to a slew of reports out this week from Juniper Research, International Data Corp (IDC), and comScore. Thanks to impressive shipment numbers during the first three months of 2012, Samsung now controls more of the smartphone market than either Apple or Nokia.

According to IDC’s estimates, Samsung shipped 42.2 million smartphones during January, February, and March — a whopping 267 percent increase over the same period last year. This gives Samsung a commanding 29.1 percent of the world’s smartphone market.

Samsung Apple Q1 2012 IDCApple, by comparison, sold 35.1 million iPhones during the first quarter, a 88.7 percent increase over 2011’s Q1 numbers. This puts Apple in the number two slot, with 24.2 percent of the market. It should be noted that, while it’s never ideal to be second best, 35.1 million phones sold in three months is nothing to balk at. And Apple currently owes its overall success to the popularity of the iPhone.

Nokia, on the other hand, isn’t doing so hot. Once the world’s largest cell phone maker, Nokia has yet to make significant headway in the world of smartphones, despite its partnership with Microsoft. The Finnish company sold 11.9 million smartphones during the first quarter, according to IDC, a 50.8 percent drop over the previous year. Nokia now holds 8.2 percent of the smartphone market.

HTC sits at the bottom of the top five with 4.8 percent of the market, based on 6.9 million in sales. This could change in the next quarter, however, with the help of HTC’s new blockbuster handset, the One X (review).

Of course, we can’t mention decline in the smartphone market without talking about Research In Motion. The Canadian company sold about 9.7 million BlackBerry handsets, giving it 6.7 percent of the smartphone market. This constitutes a 29.7 percent drop over Q1 of 2011.

Thanks primarily to Samsung and Apple, as well as a number of smaller manufacturers, the smartphone market is doing well overall. Total shipments are up 42.5 percent, says IDC, to 144.9 million. The overall mobile phone market took a hit, however, dropping 1.5 points in the first quarter.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Samsung will stay in the top spot for long. The Galaxy S III is expected to arrive on Wednesday. And Apple’s next iPhone — whatever it’ll be called — will be here soon enough. Regardless, it would seem that we have our top two contenders for the foreseeable future. Unless, of course, RIM makes a miraculous comeback with BlackBerry 10. Or, you know, not…

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