Until recently, Nokia held a 50% marketshare in smartphone shipments, but in 2008 and 2009, the company saw its share fall below 40% due to increased competition from suppliers targeting consumers with interactive touch-screen handsets that are capable of running multimedia applications.
In 2012, Nokia's smartphone shipments are expected to decline by 55% and ultimately represent only 10% of its total cellphone unit sales. Moreover, its share of the total smartphone market is forecast to drop to only 5% this year.
Competition in the smartphone market intensified in 2012 as suppliers rolled out new handset designs with larger touch-screen displays, more powerful processors, better operating systems, higher-resolution cameras, and new radio-modem connections to 4G cellular networks, which were quickly spreading in the US, South Korea, Europe, and Japan.
2012 Phone Shipments
Samsung and Apple are forecast to dominate the smartphone market this year. In total, these two companies are expected to ship an estimated 353m smartphones and hold a combined 47% share of the total smartphone market in 2012.
Smartphone suppliers under pressure include Nokia, RIM, and HTC, each of which is expected to register steep double-digit year-over-year declines in smartphone unit sales this year.
In contrast to Nokia, RIM, and HTC, 2012 smartphone sales from China-based Huawei, ZTE, and Lenovo (which replaced Motorola/Google in 2012 as the tenth largest smartphone supplier) are forecast to surge.
Combined, the three top-ten China-based smartphone suppliers are expected to ship about 10m handsets in 2012, more than 3x the 34m smartphones these three companies shipped in 2011.
2012 Smartphone Shipments
Lenovo sold its mobile phone business in 2008 for $100m only to buy it back in 2009 for $200m.
Although Lenovo's mobile phone division was losing money through most of 2012, the company stated its intentions to continue supporting the mobile phone division and put additional emphasis on the smartphone portion of this segment.
In 2013, Samsung, Apple, and Huawei are expected to keep their hold on the top three positions in the smartphone supplier ranking. The surging smartphone market in China is expected to greatly benefit the three major China-based smartphone suppliers (i.e., Huawei, ZTE, and Lenovo) next year. In fact, the combined smartphone unit sales of these three companies are forecast to reach 175m in 2013, a 62% increase over their combined 2012 shipment level of 108 million.
In contrast to the success of the large China-based smartphone suppliers, IC Insights expects Nokia, RIM, and HTC to continue to struggle in the smartphone marketplace in 2013. In fact, each of these companies is forecast to show a 2013 decline in smartphone unit sales as compared to 2012, with Nokia expected to post another double-digit decline.