IDC is showing some interesting trends in the worldwide mobile phone market in the last one year.  The IDC report indicate that the worldwide mobile phone market declined 1.5% year over year in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). Also, Samsung has finally completely dethroned Nokia as the world’s top mobile phone vendor. The Nokia numbers look pathetic and an article on TechCrunch rightly blames it on Nokia’s arrogance.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, mobile handset vendors shipped 398.4 million units in 1Q12 compared to 404.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011.

Nokia has been the global market leader in total mobile phone shipments since the inception of IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004. Unlike Nokia which first ruled the low end market before the reigning in the smartphone field, Samsung’s ascension to the market’s top spot is said to be a reflection of its gains in the smartphone market over the past two years.

Commenting on the report, Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program said:

 “Samsung has used its established relationships with carriers in a mix of economically diverse markets to gain share organically and at the expense of former high fliers such as Nokia.”

Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in 1Q12, as Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position. Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in 1Q12 compared to 101.7 million units in 1Q11. The 42.5% year-over-year growth was 1% higher than IDC’s forecast of 41.5% for the quarter, and lower than the 57.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program said:

“Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched.”

Smartphone Vendor Highlights

  • Samsung reclaimed the smartphone leadership position and established a new market record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter. Propelling the company forward was continued expansion of its Galaxy portfolio in nearly all directions – new and old smartphones, product and market segmentation, and multiple price points, screen sizes, and processor speeds.
  • Apple slipped to second place in the worldwide smartphone market, but nonetheless posted strong year-over-year growth to reach 35.1 million units shipped. Apple’s gains in the market benefited from iPhone availability at additional mobile operators worldwide, as well as sustained end-user demand among both consumers and enterprise users.
  • Nokia‘s Symbian phone shipments declined precipitously last quarter as demand dropped in key emerging markets, such as China. The company’s current smartphone woes make a speedy transition to products powered by the Windows Phone operating system, upon which it has bet its smartphone future, critical.
  • Research In Motion‘s BlackBerry unit decline continued last quarter, reaching levels not seen since 2009. Like Nokia, RIM is a company in transition. Smartphones running on its new platform, BB 10, will be released later this year. Until then, results like these may be a sign of things to come.

HTC‘s struggles in the U.S. market once again negatively affected its overall performance. However, its relatively strong performance in Asia/Pacific still allowed the company to maintain its position among the top 5 smartphone vendors. The company is staking future success in large part on its One X and S products.

Top Five Worldwide Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q1 2012 (Units in Millions)

Vendor

1Q12 Unit Shipments

1Q12 Market Share

1Q11 Unit Shipments

1Q11 Market Share

Year-over-year Change

Samsung

42.2

29.1%

11.5

11.3%

267.0%

Apple

35.1

24.2%

18.6

18.3%

88.7%

Nokia

11.9

8.2%

24.2

23.8%

-50.8%

Research In Motion

9.7

6.7%

13.8

13.6%

-29.7%

HTC

6.9

4.8%

9.0

8.9%

-23.3%

Others

39.1

27.0%

24.5

24.1%

59.6%

Total

144.9

100.0%

101.7

100.0%

42.5%