Research: Apple, Samsung Grab 90% of Global Smartphone Profits

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — June 15, 2012

Although smartphone shipments grew 41 percent 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 percent of global smartphone shipments in Q1 2012 and over 90 percent of the market's profits. The question remains: can anyone break away to become a strong third in this market?

Of the top 10 smartphone OEMs, only Samsung and Sony experienced sequential growth in shipments over Q4 2011. Nokia witnessed a 40 percent sequential decline in shipments and may soon be passed by ailing RIM in shipments despite the BlackBerry maker's 20 percent sequential decline in shipments. “At this point in the year, Nokia will have to grow its Windows Phone business 5,000 percent in 2012 just to offset its declines in Symbian shipments,” says Michael Morgan, senior analyst, devices, applications & content, ABI Research.

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


Table: Select Smartphone Vendor Shipments, Q1 2012


(Millions of units)



    Apple       35
    Huawei       6.8
    Nokia       11.9
    RIM       11.1
    Samsung       43
    Sony       7
    ZTE       4.9

Source: ABI Research

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,” adds Jeff Orr, practice director, devices, applications & content.

ABI Research's "Smartphone Market Data" provides quarterly global and regional data for smartphone operating systems, ASPs, vendor market shares, revenues, air interface protocols, and technology attach rates.

It is part of ABI Research's Smartphones & Mobile Devices Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research's worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 40+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit


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