While such quantity-over-quality tactics have allowed Nokia to sell more handsets than any other vendor in the world, the Finnish company has stubbornly maintained this stagnant approach despite a rapidly changing global handset market. That said,if current sales trends continue 2012 might be the year that Nokia is finally dethroned as the world’s largest handset manufacturer (by device volume) as Samsung is poised to usurp the top spot.
The Korean handset manufacturer Samsung has seen remarkable success in the last several years, producing some of the world’s most popular Android devices and producing the only line of tablets that even comes close to rivalling Apple’s success with the iPad.
But even with Samsung encroaching on its territory Nokia isn’t planning on going down without a fight, with the company betting big on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system in the New Year; but the lingering question is will it really make a difference?
There’s no question it’s been a banner year for Samsung. Early this year the Korean company dethroned Apple as the world’s top smartphone vendor, thanks in large part to the surprisingly popularity of its Galaxy S flagship smartphone. The company has outpaced Apple due mainly to the fact that it is willing to roll-out out new iterations of its flagship line-up faster than Apple, thus allowing the company to bring cutting edge technology to market faster than its chief rivals.
Having long left Apple in its smartphone wake, it now looks like Samsung is poised to capture the entire handset market as well, as according to Reuters—citing a report in a local Korean newspaper—Samsung anticipates selling 374 million handsets worldwide in 2012, an increase from the 325 million units it had initially forecast; included in that estimate is also a whopping 150 million smartphone sales across the globe.
Nokia, for its part, sold 450 million handsets worldwide last year, but nonetheless struggled to keep pace with any of its rivals in the competitive smartphone segment, resulting in slumping revenues. In an effort to waylay investor concern, the company has officially decided to not make its 2012 sales forecasts public, but analysts are anticipating at least a 5 percent drop in sales, meaning that Nokia would move about 399 million handsets next year.
With the gap between think steadily shrinking, Samsung has positioned itself within striking distance of top spot, certainly an achievable goal in the New Year if Nokia’s plans for Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS don’t bring the smartphone sales the company hopes for…and it most likely won’t.
If Nokia’s first Windows-phone offering says anything about the company’s future success with the WP OS, it doesn’t look good, as the new Lumia 800 has garnered little interest in the global smartphone market.
In the end, while Samsung does need a lot of sales and a lot of luck to dethrone Nokia from its comfortable perch atop the global handset market in 2012, if current trends continue it truly looks like a changing of the mobile guard will be an inevitability in the near future.