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Samsung ends Nokia's 14-year run as largest phone handset maker

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as the world’s biggest vendor of for the first time, ending the Finnish company’s 14-year run as the global leader, according to an industry study.

Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter, 36 per cent more than a year earlier, compared with 82.7 million for second-ranked Nokia, researcher said in a statement on Friday. Demand for Galaxy smartphones helped the South Korea-based Samsung post first-quarter net income today of 5.05 trillion won ($4.5 billion), beating analysts’ estimates.

Nokia had been the biggest mobile-phone maker by shipments since 1998, when the Finland-based company took over the spot from Motorola Inc. Nokia reported a euro 1.34 billion ($1.8 billion) first-quarter operating loss after handset sales slumped. Both smartphones and low-end handsets declined as Nokia’s aging portfolio was outpaced by handsets running Google Inc’s Android. Its handset shipments in China fell 62 per cent.

“Last year Samsung became No. 1 in Europe while Nokia retained the No. 1 position in most emerging markets,” Tom Kang, a Seoul-based research analyst at Strategy Analytics, said. “In the first quarter, we expect Samsung took a lot of market share from Nokia in Asia. China and India were the two biggest markets where Samsung gained.”

According to Strategy Analytics, Inc is the world’s third-biggest maker of mobile-phones after shipments rose 89 per cent to 35.1 million last quarter. “Samsung will probably still be No. 1 in the second quarter, but the full year will be a close call because the third and fourth quarters are traditionally Nokia’s best,” Kang said. Samsung also regained the lead from Apple as the world’s biggest vendor of smartphones in the first quarter. Smartphone shipments surged 41 per cent in the quarter, the analysts said.

Samsung shipped 44.5 million smartphones in the first three months of the year with a 31 per cent of the market share. Apple shipped 35.1 million units, accounting for 24 per cent of the market, it said. Nokia ranked third in the segment.

Nokia said this month that its new smartphone line using Microsoft Corp’s Windows Phone platform sold more than two million units in the first quarter of the 11.9 million smartphones the company had shipped. Samsung accounted for about 25 per cent of the global handset market by shipments, while Nokia’s market share was almost 23 per cent. Apple’s market share was 9.5 per cent.

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