Apple and Samsung Top Smartphone Sales, Profits for Q1 2012

Samsung and Apple have dominated the mobile market, and have surpassed other brands in the first quarter of 2012, says ABI Research. According to the latest report from the market intelligence firm, both manufacturers have snagged a 90% of the profits from a 55% market share in January, February and March.

Students look at the huge screen of Samsung Electronics Co. at a showroom of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, in this file photo. Apple and Samsung topped smartphone sales this Q1 2012, taking 55% of market share and 90% of profits (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).

Other manufacturers will have to contend with a smaller share of the pie, despite the fact that the mobile market has grown 41% year-on-year, growing to closely 150 million units annually. Nokia and RIM will have to catch up.

With a decline in sales of the obsolete Symbian platform, analyst Michael Morgan points out that Nokia — once at the top of the market — has to “grow its Windows Phone business 5000% in 2012 just to offset its declines.” Nokia is banking its business on Windows Phone, and will have to convince leading carriers, as well as consumers, to support the OS, which promises a better user experience and a promising application ecosystem than Symbian. There is apprehension whether a company that has lost so much momentum can ever gain it back and even be on top again.

It’s definitely not a good year for the world’s #5 vendor HTC, which has been building strong brand value in high-end smart phones. HTC has lost market share to main rivals — the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy range — and saw a decrease in revenue, especially for the on-going quarter in Europe and the U.S. The Taiwanese company’s market value has dropped to below than US$ 10 billion.

RIM’s market share has fallen by a lower margin than Nokia, at 20%, although the difference between the two mobile makers’ market shares is less than one percent. Meanwhile Sony, Huawei and ZTE rank in the fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively.

After Sony’s split with Ericsson, the Japanese manufacturer released its top-ranging Xperia S,which is considered to be one of several Android-based smartphones the company has prepared in its Xperia line this year. As of today Sony is still struggling with tough competition in the market.

Overall China is still an exciting market to watch, having booked more than 80% growth, which is much higher than North America and Western Europe’s 50% growth. Despite China’s huge size, the market is not too friendly with foreign companies, as the government tends to protect its own brands and industry, both domestically and in expanding globally, especially to western countries. These include brands like ZTE and Huawei, which likewise release models re-badged by American telcos, and under their own brands.

For now local players are dominant in China, although these can be challenged by other brands that can undertake an appropriate localized strategy in the country.