Samsung is the engine driving smartphone sales globally. If there were any doubt of that, the Taiwan-based manufacturer swept it
away by shipping a record-setting 50 million smartphones in the second quarter. That's nearly twice the number of iPhones sold (26 million), helping Samsung nearly double its lead over Apple in
smartphone market share, 32.6% to 16.9%, according to new data from IDC.
Samsung overtook Nokia in the first quarter to become the top smartphone maker worldwide.
One concern for Apple and other competitors is that the second-quarter figures do not fully reflect strong early sales of Samsung’s
flagship Galaxy S III phone. The Android-powered device launched in June had sold more than 10 million units through July 22, according to a statement from a senior Samsung executive.
Samsung and Apple together claim nearly half the market and put more distance between themselves and other manufacturers. The two tech giants have taken different approaches toward the same end. Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst at IDC, explained that Samsung has employed a “shotgun” strategy -- creating a variety of models covering a range of market segments.
Apple, by contrast, offers a small number of high-profile devices. Many consumers are believed to be holding off buying an iPhone until the next version of the iconic handset comes out in the fall. “While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains,” he said.
Unlike Apple, Samsung also kicked off an extensive Olympics-related campaign, including sponsorship of the Olympic torch relay, a specially designed logo for the London Games and an Olympics-edition of the Galaxy S III featuring the Union Jack.
Nokia finished the quarter a distant third behind Samsung and Apple, with 10.2 million shipments -- equal to just 6.6% market share, down from 15.4% a year ago. IDC said sales of Nokia’s Lumia phones have remained steady, despite the prospect of next-generation Windows Phone 8 devices arriving this fall. AT&T made a big push around the $99 Lumia 900 this spring.
“Nokia, however, has a long path to travel before it can reclaim previous volume levels and challenge Apple and Samsung for smartphone supremacy,” warned the firm’s report. Rounding out the top five smartphone vendors for the second quarter were HTC, with 8.8 million phones shipped, for 5.7% share, and China-based manufacturer ZTE, with 8 million, or 5.2% share.
The overall mobile phone market grew just 1% in the quarter as global economic conditions continued to dampen sales. Companies shipped 406 million units compared to 401.8 million in the year-earlier period.
"With half of 2012 behind us, vendors are looking ahead to 2013
and how key markets -- particularly Europe and emerging markets -- will play out," said Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst at IDC.
Unlike Europe, emerging markets have been a bright spot for manufacturers, offsetting declines in other regions by virtue of their size and the shift toward higher-end phones.