Nokia has dropped off the list of the top five smartphone vendors in the third quarter, facing stiff competition from Samsung and Apple globally, and from high-growth vendors like Huawei in China, where Nokia was the dominant player as recently as the third quarter of 2011, according to research firm IDC .
The Finnish mobile phone maker was in the third position in smartphone shipments in the second quarter. In overall mobile phone shipments, it lost its top position in the third quarter from a year ago to Samsung but was still ahead of Apple. But its shipments dropped to 82.9 million in the third quarter from 106.5 million in the same quarter last year.
Smartphone market vendors shipped 179.7 million units in the third quarter up 45.3 percent from 123.7 million units in the same quarter last year, IDC said. The overall mobile phone market grew 2.4 percent year-over-year in the third quarter with 444.5 million mobile phones shipped.
Nokia's transition away from smartphones running Symbian to phones shipped with Windows Phone has provided opportunity for rivals to take share away from the company over the past 18 months, IDC said. The smartphone market is however nascent and there is place for multiple vendors with different operating systems to flourish, including Nokia, it added.
Samsung's market share in smartphones was 31.3 percent in the quarter, up from 22.7 percent in the third quarter last year. It shipped 56.3 million smartphones compared to 28 million units in the same quarter last year.
Samsung's growth came largely from its "broad, deep, and refreshed" Android portfolio, including its flagship model Galaxy S III which was available through the quarter, IDC said. The South Korean company also announced mid-range and mass-market models, including the ATIV S running Windows 8.
Apple, still the second largest smartphone vendor, saw its share go up to 15 percent from 13.8 percent a year ago. It shipped 26.9 million units in the quarter. Its iPhone 5, which was on the market for one week in the third quarter, however helped boost shipments for the quarter as it sold more than 5 million phones in the first weekend of availability. Sales of the iPhone were not dampened by its introduction of its Maps software which many found to be flawed and incomplete.
Research firm Strategy Analytics also on Thursday released data that gave Samsung a smartphone market share of 35.2 percent and Apple a 16.6 percent share in the third quarter. Samsung shipped 56.9 million units in the quarter while Apple moved 26.9 million units in the quarter, it said.
Research In Motion, ZTE and HTC were the other three smartphone vendors in the top five, according to IDC. Chinese vendor ZTE eased HTC out of the fourth position largely because of its international diversification, and an increase in sales in many emerging markets. HTC's smartphone shipments were down to 7.3 million units from 12.7 million units in the same quarter last year.