Samsung leads the pack shipping 306 million smartphones with Apple second on 151 million.
Last year, Samsung and Apple shipped a combined 354 million smartphones and held a combined 50% share of the total smartphone market.
For 2013, these two companies are expected to ship 457 million smartphones and see their combined smartphone unit marketshare slip three percentage points to 47%.
Alas poor Nokia. As recently as 2011, Nokia was the third-largest supplier of smartphones behind Samsung and Apple. In 2012, Nokia saw its share of the smartphone market drop to only 5% due to increased competition from suppliers targeting consumers with interactive touch-screen handsets that are capable of running multimedia applications.
In 2013, Nokia’s smartphone shipments are forecast to decline by another 4% and represent only a 3% share of the total smartphone market. This precipitous fall from being the market leader in smartphones led to Nokia’s decision to sell its cellphone business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion in a deal that is expected to be finalized in 1Q14.
Other smartphone producers that have fallen on hard times recently include RIM and HTC. While each of these companies had about a 10% share of the smartphone market in 2011, IC Insights estimates that each of them will have only about a 2% share of the 2013 smartphone market.
Competition in smartphones intensified in 2013 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 the faster 4G cellular networks, which were quickly spreading in the U.S., South Korea, Europe, and Japan. In the next few years, new high-speed 4G networks are planned for China, India, Brazil, the Middle East, and other fast-growing developing markets.
In contrast to the weakening fortunes of Nokia, RIM, and HTC, 2012 and 2013 smartphone sales from China-based ZTE, Lenovo, Huawei, and Yulong/Coolpad surged.
Combined, these four major China-based smartphone suppliers shipped 98 million smartphones in 2012, more than a 3x increase from the 29 million smartphones these companies shipped in 2011. Moreover, these companies are forecast to ship 165 million smartphones in 2013 and together hold a 17% share of the worldwide smartphone market.
It should be noted that the Chinese suppliers of smartphones are primarily serving the China and Asia-Pacific marketplace. These smartphones, unlike those from Apple, HTC, and RIM, are low-cost low-end handsets that typically sell for less than $200. In some cases, smartphones sold by the Chinese companies have been known to sell for as little as $50. With much of the growth in the smartphone market currently taking place in developing countries such as China and India, these low-end systems are expected to be a driving force in the cellphone market over the next few years.
In 2013, low-end smartphones are expected to represent just under one-third (310 million) of the total 975 million smartphones shipped. By 2017, it is forecast that low-end smartphone shipments will represent 46% of the total smartphone market. It is also expected that China and the Asia-Pacific region will remain the primary markets for these low-end smartphones.