Samsung: We'll beat Nokia in 2012 handset shipments

LAS VEGAS--Samsung Electronics thinks it will ship more handsets in 2012 than industry leader Nokia (NYSE:NOK), according to Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung. If Choi's prediction does come to pass, it would end Nokia's 14-year run as the king of the cell phone industry. However, some analysts doubt that Samsung's growing strength in smartphones can overcome Nokia's strong position in emerging markets. 

According to Reuters, Choi told reporters here at the Consumer Electronics Show that that Samsung surpassed Nokia in terms of revenue in the fourth quarter and that he is confident it will overcome Nokia's lead in shipment volumes this year. The confidence crystallizes the differing fortunes of the two companies. Samsung has seen its star rise during the past year thanks in large part to growing smartphone shipments, while Nokia has undertaken a change in strategy to counter weakening smartphone sales by embracing Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software.

Some analysts have already predicted that Samsung--thanks in large part to growing sales of its smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform as well as its efforts in Windows Phone and its homegrown bada software--will be able to pass Nokia in volumes. However, others are skeptical that Nokia will lose its crown so easily. According to the latest polls of analysts by Reuters, Nokia is expected to sell 418 million phones in 2011, compared with Samsung's 320 million. The polls show Nokia's lead narrowing to 388 million units versus Samsung's 359 million in 2012.

Although some companies, including Sony Ericsson, have warned of weakness in European markets as a result of the ongoing financial crisis there, weakness in established markets might actually play into Nokia's hands. Nokia has traditionally been strong in emerging markets, where its dual-SIM devices have proven popular. Even though Nokia plans to focus more on Windows Phone smartphones this year, the company is still committed to its low-end phone efforts, which may help it maintain its lead. "I think it will be hard for Samsung to beat Nokia without more aggressively targeting emerging markets," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told Reuters.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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