Nokia and HTC took the biggest loses with Nokia dropping 38.9% year over year and HTC dropping 24.1%.
"Samsung and Apple have quickly become the global smartphone heavyweights though both employ somewhat different approaches to the market," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Samsung employs a 'shotgun' strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high-profile models. While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains."
● Samsung extended its lead over Apple during the second quarter, taking advantage of Apple's release schedule and launching its flagship Galaxy S III. In addition, Samsung experienced continued success of its smartphone/tablet hybrid device, the Galaxy Note. As a result, Samsung topped the 50 million unit mark and reached a new quarterly smartphone shipment record in a single quarter. What remains to be seen is how the company's smartphones will fare against Apple's next-generation iPhone expected later this year.
● Apple posted an expected sequential decline last quarter, similar to years past. The quarter-over-quarter shipment decline came six months after it unveiled its latest iPhone. The decline is not unusual as iPhone shipment volume is highest in the first two quarters after its release. The company's once-a-year release cycle usually results in two quarters of lower volumes leading up to the next-generation model introduction. Nonetheless, Apple made significant inroads into new markets and segments, including smaller regional carriers and prepaid service providers.
● Nokia smartphone business underwent another quarter of transition. Demand for Symbian and MeeGo units declined, reaching levels not seen since 2005 though the company almost doubled its Windows Phone shipments from the previous quarter. Nokia's Lumia sales were not terribly affected by Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 announcement, which will prevent current Lumia owners from upgrading to the new mobile operating system. However, Lumia sales have remained steady and key enhancements available on the new platform will eventually become available to current Lumia owners. Nokia, however, has a long path to travel before it can reclaim previous volume levels and challenge Apple and Samsung for smartphone supremacy.
● HTC rebounded from its struggles in the two previous quarters to reclaim the number 4 spot in the smartphone vendor rankings. Its relatively strong performance in the Asia/Pacific region allowed it to climb back up the rank order as did the correction of its channel inventory issues. The company's streamlined portfolio means future share gains will be predicated upon the success of its One products.
● ZTE climbed into the smartphone Top 5 for the first time thanks primarily to shipments of its lower-cost entry-level smartphones in China, where it's based. However, the vendor has also grown its international smartphone sales, particularly in the U.S. where its smartphones can be found under other brands. Latin America is another source of significant smartphone growth for the vendor. Despite impressive gains last quarter, brand equity may prove to be an issue for ZTE in future. Strong brand recognition is a necessity if high-growth smartphone sales abroad are a priority for the company.