After reporting record profit for the first quarter of 2012, South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics has achieved yet another outstanding feat. The company has become the world's number one handset vendor, thereby ending Finnish firm Nokia's 14-year run as the global leader, according to a latest research from Strategy Analytics.

The research report said that global handset shipments grew 3 percent annually to reach 368 million units in the first quarter of 2012, and Samsung was the star performer during the quarter, capturing a record 25 percent marketshare. The company shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter (36 percent more than a year earlier), compared with 82.7 million for second-ranked Nokia.


Global Handset Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q1 2012. Credit: Strategy Analytics

With 82.7 million units in Q1 2012, Nokia's global handset shipments declined a huge 24 percent annually. Volumes were squeezed at both ends, as low-end feature phone shipments in emerging markets stalled and high-end Microsoft Lumia smartphones were unable to offset the rapid decline of Nokia's legacy Symbian business, Strategy Analytics said in a statement.

Nokia was the world's largest handset vendor between 1998 and 2011, for 14 years, before finally yielding top position to rival Samsung this quarter.

Last year Samsung became No. 1 in Europe while Nokia retained the No. 1 position in most emerging markets, Tom Kang, a Seoul-based research analyst at Strategy Analytics told Bloomberg. In the first quarter, we expect Samsung took a lot of market share from Nokia in Asia. China and India were the two biggest markets where Samsung gained.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Could Slow iPhone's Growth

The Strategy Analytics report said that Apple also shipped a healthy 35.1 million handsets worldwide during the same quarter, nearly doubling from 18.6 million units a year earlier.

The iPhone-maker achieved its highest ever marketshare in the overall handset category, capturing 10 percent of global shipments during the first quarter of 2012. According to the report, demand for the new iPhone 4S model remained strong in the U.S. and Japan, while the recent launch of the 4S in China was a timely contributor to Apple's rapid growth.

Although the research firm expected Apple to grow further in the second quarter of this year, the upcoming launch of Samsung's new Galaxy S3 flagship model could slow iPhone's growth in some regions if it receives an overwhelming response from both operators and consumers.

Samsung, Apple Together Captured Over Half Of Global Smartphone Shipments

Global smartphone shipments grew 41 percent annually to reach 145.3 million units in the first quarter of 2012, and if the figures were correct, Apple and Samsung combined would make half of all smartphones shipped around the world, said the research report.


Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q1 2012. Credit: Strategy Analytics

Samsung overtook Apple to become the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume with a record 31 percent market share, said Alex Spektor, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics. Samsung's global smartphone shipments rose 253 percent annually to 44.5 million units, as demand surged for its popular Galaxy models such as the Note, S2 and Y.

With shipments of 35.1 million smartphones worldwide, Apple captured 24 percent marketshare. On the other hand, Nokia maintained its position as the world's third largest smartphone player, but its global share fell from 23 percent in Q1 2011 to just 8 percent in Q1 2012.