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Although smartphone shipments grew 41% year-over-year to 144.6 million as of the quarter ending March 2012, many smartphone OEMs are not enjoying the benefits of a rapidly expanding market. Samsung and Apple captured 55% of global smartphone shipments in 1Q ’2012 and over 90% of the market’s profits.

 

The question remains: can anyone break away to become a strong third? Of the top ten OEMs, only Samsung and Sony saw sequential growth in 4Q’2011. Nokia witnessed a 40% sequential decline in shipments and may soon be passed by  RIM despite the BlackBerry maker’s 20% sequential decline.

 

“At this point, Nokia will have to grow its Windows Phone business 5000% in 2012 just to offset its declines in Symbian shipments,” says Michael Morgan, senior analyst, devices, applications & content, ABI Research.

  Smartphone shipments 2012

As the smartphone markets of North America and Western Europe pass 50% penetration, smartphone OEMs should seek growth in key markets, such as China, which continues to show strong shipment growth of over 80%.

Despite the shipment growth opportunities that China offers, smartphone OEMs will have to contend with local vendors ZTE and Huawei whose cost structures are tailored to deliver smartphones and homologated content ecosystems at the lower price points needed to drive growth across the country.

 

“As Nokia’s market share in China plummets, the competition to fill this power vacuum has the potential to make or break smartphone OEMs currently struggling with profitability and differentiation,” says Jeff Orr, practice director, devices, applications & content at ABI Research.

------ABI Research  

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