IDC estimates Samsung outshipped Apple 2-1 in worldwide smartphone market in Q312

The worldwide mobile phone market grew 2.4% year over year in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12), driven by heavyweights Samsung and Apple as Nokia dropped off the Top 5 list of smartphone vendors. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 444.5 million mobile phones in 3Q12 compared to 434.1 million units in the third quarter of 2011.

In the worldwide smartphone market vendors shipped 179.7 million units in 3Q12 compared to 123.7 million units in 3Q11. The 45.3% year-over-year growth was slightly above IDC’s forecast of 45.2% for the quarter.

Equally noteworthy was the decline of Nokia, which was replaced by Research In Motion as a Top 5 smartphone player. Nokia’s exit from the Top 5, where it had resided since the inception of IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004, was precipitated by the rise of Samsung and Apple globally and high-growth vendors like Huawei in China, where Nokia was the dominant player as recently as the third quarter of 2011.

“Nokia’s share losses have meant gains for competitors,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “The company’s transition away from Symbian-powered smartphones to ones shipped with Windows Phone has left ample opportunity for rivals to steal share away from Nokia over the past 18 months. However, the smartphone market is still relatively nascent, which means there’s room for multiple vendors and operating systems to flourish, including Nokia.”

“Nokia is not the only smartphone vendor in transition,” added Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “Research In Motion, although still a market leader, expects to start shipping its first BB10 devices in 2013. Motorola, once the number 3 smartphone vendor worldwide, is redirecting itself under its parent company Google. These are just two vendors among many that feel the competitive pressure of Samsung and Apple, but are striving to create multiple points of differentiation to assert upward pressure.”

Nonetheless, IDC expects long-term mobile phone and smartphone shipment demand to grow due to the central role mobile phones play in people’s lives. “At the heart of mobility is communication,” noted Llamas. “Mobile phones and smartphones play a critical role in keeping people connected, regardless of location. In addition, their utility beyond communication – productivity, entertainment, and multimedia – continues to add to their value.”

Smartphone Vendor Highlights

Samsung maintained its leadership position in the worldwide smartphone market, posting another record quarter for itself and the industry, and more than double the total volume of its next closest competitor, Apple. This marks the first time since 4Q09 that a single company held more than 31% market share in a single quarter. Samsung’s growth was fueled in large part by its broad, deep, and refreshed Android portfolio, highlighted by the full quarter availability of its flagship model Galaxy S III. In addition, the company announced multiple mid-range and mass-market models, including a new Windows Phone, the ATIV S.

Apple iPhone shipments finished the quarter nearly flat from the previous quarter, reaching a total of 26.9 million units. Although the iPhone 5 was only on the market for one week in 3Q12, the aggressive rollout of the device resulted in more than 5 million iPhones sold in the first weekend of availability, which helped buoy Apple’s shipment totals. iPhone sales weren’t dampened by the introduction of its Maps software, which was not completely ready for use. Instead, the iPhone 5’s larger screen and 4G LTE connectivity generated user interest. What remains to be seen is how Apple will fare during the holiday quarter, when the iPhone 5 will be available in more countries worldwide.

Research In Motion‘s shipment volumes appear to have flattened though the company posted the second-highest year-over-year decline of any the leading vendors. RIM relied on its older product portfolio and models to achieve its status as a top 5 smartphone seller. RIM’s installed base, which topped 80 million active users during the quarter, provides further evidence of the company’s widespread presence globally. Still, without a new flagship model in time for the holiday season and BB10 models not expected until the first quarter of 2013, RIM’s position as a top 5 smartphone vendor will be under tremendous pressure from other companies.

ZTE finished among the top 5 smartphone vendors globally thanks to continued international diversification efforts last quarter. ZTE has grown its smartphone sales of late thanks primarily to an uptick in lower-cost smartphone sales in many emerging markets. The company has traditionally been dependent on sales of phones to China, where the company is based. However, notable progress was made in North America last quarter.

HTC clung to the number 5 smartphone spot last quarter thanks to sales of key models such as the HTC One X and the EVO 4G. Continued year-over-year growth in the Asia/Pacific region helped the smartphone vendor offset some of the share losses the vendor has endured in key mature markets, namely the U.S. The company hopes to rejuvenate its global fortunes this quarter with the introduction of the 8X and 8S models, powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8, among others. However, it will have to convince consumers that the differences between the models and Android-powered phones or iPhones are interesting enough to merit a purchase.

IDC: Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, 2012 Q3 (Units in Millions)

IDC: Top Five Total Mobile Phone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, 2012 Q3 (Units in Millions)

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, October 25, 2012
Note: Data are preliminary and subject to change. Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

Source: IDC

MacDailyNews Take: Crime pays (but, in this case, not as well as you might think).

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Apple’s share of global mobile phone profits: 73% – May 3, 2012
With 8.7% market share, Apple reaps 75% of mobile phone profits – February 3, 2012


  1. Samdung’s numbers are *estimates* while Apple’s are hard numbers they reported in their quarterly filing. Also, very few of Samdung’s “smartphones” really qualify as smartphones (there’s no breakdown of models sold). I’m skeptical.

    1. Well if Sumscum is selling smart phones 2:1 then there customers certainly don’t know how to browse the web with them base on web usage statics I’ve seen. You’d have to be dumb to by Samsung so I guess that makes sense.

      1. Those estimations differ as much as more than 10 million units.

        So those 56 million could be very well 42 million. Of course, now Samsung is definitely number one in terms of quantity, but the question is how much.

        Also, Apple is going to significantly up iPhone sales numbers in Q4 — might be again close to 40 million. Lets see how IDC and others will come up with made up numbers that would claim that Samsung is still number one even in Q4.

    2. how about we lay off the creative (and boring) attempts to create a new meme for Samsung’s corporate brand name? The original name should be sufficient for the purposes of bad mouthing them. In some cases a little proof-reading instead of dreaming up cute names would not go amiss.

    3. Compine it with this data:

      And you see why the Samsung sucks. They sell most of their phones with old OS.

    1. Thanks JPC, you nailed it! As the all important Winter Holiday Shopping Frenzy looms closer, I’m expecting alot of that from SameScum to buoy up the holiday numbers.

  2. Samsung, at least makes a GOOD copy. They copied NFC from Apple? Display? Apple could crush Sami if they could make enough damn phones. I wanted the iPhone 5, but when your AT&T dealer tells you that they have only gotten 10 total phones since launch and that 4 have been returned and 2 of those went with GS3 then things are not GOOD for Apple. They probably gave Sami about 3-5 million sales units because Apple can’t make enough. Everday that supply is less than demand you are sending your customers (some) to the competition. My daughter was in need of a new phone. Her iphone 4 screen shattered awhile back and finally stopped working. Rather than order an iPhone 5 she went with SG3 in white knowing she has 14 days to return it and order the iPhone 5. Well, it was so friggen cool that I too bought one. Again, iPhone 5 available in store, I definately take that. The wait is still 2-4 weeks. I have an iPad and still love it. I have been able to convert my iTunes to google play and can upload 20,000 songs to the cloud FREE and stream or download to my device. I can also continue to use iCloud with my iPad, I can run 99 percent of apps I have in iTunes with compatible android apps. Netflix and Hulu work exactly the same. As I see it, it doesn’t hurt to be knowledgable in multiple OSs. They each have benefits over the other. IOs is without a doubt the tightest package when compared to Android, but android has some cool features that iPhone doesn’t. I think the new mini iPad will be huge over time. I would NOT consider a tablet running anything else, unless it is a modified OS X that will run desktop apps on a mobile device.

    For now I will wait for iPhone 5s before I switch my phone back. I just gave my wife the old iPhone 4S and she is very happy.

    I am not a troll. I am a fanboy for many years. Apple IIe in 1983 about?? I have had iphone 1, paid $600 on first day. iPad day 1, stock purchased at $40/share before the split at 80$.

    So far I really like the SG3. It is snappy sleek and seems to have good replaceable battery life. Widgets are nice and the motion wallpapers are cool also. I think SJ would be sorely disappointed with the inability to catch up to demand and the teams inability to properly guess the quantities that would be needed. It looks like the iPad mini is going to also be in short supply. I believe that when we look back on this time, it will be considered a shank. In the long run though this problem can be fixed and will certainly be better next year. I see the stock taking several months though before apple graces the doors of $700 again. With world economic distress, don’t expect many to grow gross margins next year.

    1. Nice objective comments. I go back at least as far as you with Apple products. I make my living with Mac Pros. While not a fanboy or a troll, I do love and have owned practically everything Apple has ever made. I currently use the 4S and have no desire to pay up to get the 5S. I have only had the 4S for one year. I’m happy with my iPhone and pretty much happy with the ecosystem. It does have its problems but I believe it is in the long run safe. As some critics have pointed out, Apple does not do services well, ITunes, iCloud, MobileMe, Ping just to mention a few. Unfortunately Google does do some of these services much better. And I’d just rather not use Google. I don’t trust Google. I still use Yahoo for my search engine.
      Good for you for giving the S3 a try. If people had never tried the iMac years ago, Apple would just be a memory. The iMac saved Apple. Well, that and Steve Jobs of course. There’s a lot of venom on the site for anyone who speaks objectively concerning Apple. That’s too bad. Opinions matter. Everyone has an opinion. It’s a shame that anyone who speaks objectively is considered a troll. Those are comments usually thrown around by ramped up fanboys who can’t stand any criticism of Apple. As Jack Nicholson said “you can handle the truth”! Having said that, Samsung is a thief! And I hope they go broke. Now that is an objective comment!
      I’m not sure how happy Steve Jobs would be with the current situation with Apple? It’s only been one year since he died so he couldn’t really have made too much difference. All the current products were under his watch. Apple just can’t make enough stuff to meet demand. And obviously that’s a big problem. And margins are being compressed also. That too is a huge problem. These problems matter to Wall Street. That’s just a fact. If you can’t meet demand then you need to do something differently. I’m concerned that Apple is spreading itself very thin with so many products. I know they have to compete but you can’t compete if you don’t have the product to sell. That’s just basic business. And as you have pointed out, customers will buy other products if Apple can’t produce enough. Not everyone will wait like me and many apple fans. And other than the first couple of days, it’s not good to brag about being sold out of a new product or refresh product. Bragging is something fanboys do. Selling is what Apple is supposed to be doing.
      The recent downturn in Apple stock shouldn’t have surprised anyone. C’mon, it reached its all-time high! Sure they’ll look great selling stuff left and right through the holiday season but they’re falling behind every day. I was hopeful that the iPad mini would really ramp things up. But now I don’t think so. I think they will sell millions but in the end margins are going to come down considerably overall for all of Apple’s products. And yes, I do understand that that would happen no matter what because of new products. I’m talking about longer-term. And so is Wall Street. Where I once thought that Apple could hit $700 again by January, I no longer think that. I believe the holiday season will help the stock go higher eventually, but I believe it will be a long time before it ever gets to $700 again. And I don’t like saying that. And I’m not sure that any sort of Apple ITV will help that much either? Let’s face it Apple has finally become the biggest out there. It has grown and grown and grown. At an unbelievable pace in the last five years. There’s no more guarantee that Apple stock will continue to trade higher. Nor is there in ANY investment. But Apple has been a pretty safe bet if you wanted to make money for the last 5 to 10 years. Apple may be simply a value/dividend investment going forward. And there are better value stocks out there. I believe it will trade sideways with the same chance to go down as up in the future. And that’s a killer because Apple has been so reliable. I’ll be putting money back into Apple but very cautiously now. I’m just glad I took it out when it reached its recent high point. For those who did not, you may have quite a wait to get back to where you were in September. Be very careful, it can drop more.
      Good luck with your S3, but I’ll bet you’ll be back with an iPhone before too long.

  3. Questions:

    Which of these shipments ended up in consumers hands?
    Which of these shipments weren’t the “only because its free” sales?

    Please also keep in mind that Samsung has a slew of devices available that can be bought at your local gas station.

  4. I don’t live in the USA, I live in a third world country. And of course SAMSUNG is dominating. Because their phones are shipper, that’s it, nothing more nothing less. Their product line is bigger, but I don’t think they’re making big margins from them, you just have to ask people in the streets how much they spend on android apps, the answer will be 00000000000000000.
    On the other hand if you ask iphone users well that another story…

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