Worldwide Mobile Phones Sales Slowed Down in Q1 2012, but Samsung Still On Top

Samsung has surpassed Nokia as top handset manufacturer and overtake Apple to become number one again in smartphone space. The South Korean firm has achieved this, despite a lower number of mobile devices sold worldwide in the first quarter this year at 419.1 million units. Even with only a 2% decline, this is the first time a slump has happened in the last three years, according to report disclosed by Gartner Group.

Students look at the huge screen of Samsung Electronics Co. at a showroom of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, in this April 2012 file photo. Samsung remains the world's top-selling mobile and smartphone brand, even with a worldwide slump in mobile sales. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Decrease in demand from Asia Pacific consumers is seen as the primary cause behind the unexpected trend, as emphasized by Anshul Gupta, a principal analyst at Gartner. Diving into details, he pointed out that “lack of new product launched by leading manufacturers” may have led would-be smartphone buyers to delay their purchase decisions to wait for better devices as one of the foremost reasons behind the decline.

With this kind of situation, the same trend is likely to appear in the last two quarters of 2012, as highlighted by analyst Annette Zimmerman. It looks like that the big hope will lie on China. Regardless of the country’s having more than 1 billion devices, 3G-enabled smartphones offered by local and international players is expected to increase the demand from the world biggest mobile phone market, both in urban and rural areas.

For other regions, Zimmerman adds that that the launch of new smartphones in mature markets will “help drive a stronger second half in Western Europe and North America.”

Samsung had a good first quarter 2012. The company sold 86.6 million phones, which is a 25.9% year-on-year growth, increasing market share from 16.1% in 2011 to 20.7%. With this, Samsung has broken Nokia’s 14-year streak as the top-selling mobile brand. Nokia’s market share dipped to 19.8%.

Meanwhile, in the smartphone market, Samsung has regained pole position from Apple with 38 million handsets against 17.4 million units. Over 40% of smartphones sold in that period were Android-powered devices.