The Changing Landscape of Mobile Market: Why Nokia’s Loss resulted in Samsung’s Gain?


The recent Gartner report on mobile phones has provided some major insights on the changing landscape of mobile phones. This post essentially looks at some of those key changes and why Nokia’s loss resulted in a major advantage for Samsung.

The report essentially cites a rather marginal decline of 3% in worldwide mobile sales, while the smartphone sales perked up by another 47% leading to significant gains to Samsung, Apple. Nokia on the other hand has slid further in the smartphone ranks to a humble 7th.

Some of the key insights of the report include the reason why Samsung has gained more or less the same amount of market share as Nokia has lost, effectively showing that consumers have in fact moved away from Nokia and not iOS in the great smartphone/mobile phone battle.

Worldwide Mobile Device Sales

Samsung Poaches Nokia consumers

While Samsung gained over 4.7% of the world mobile device market share, Nokia has mirrored this by losing 4.7% of the market share.

Nokia still remains the 2nd largest mobile device seller mostly due to the Asha Series championed by Nokia Asha 305. The Asha series has helped Nokia gain back some of its lost market shares in the feature phone aka dumb phone market.

Samsung’s gain has largely come from its Galaxy range of smartphones that have sold and outsold most of its competitors in just about every price segment. Beautifully built and filled chock-a-block with just about every feature imaginable, Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones are unarguably the best set of smartphones money can buy.

How Nokia’s Folly helped Samsung in smartphones

Nokia’s big loss has been in the smartphone market, where it has slid significantly to 7th position. The major reason for it can be attributed to the Windows 7.5 debacle and Windows 8’s changing hardware requirements.

Nokia not being equipped to handle the top end segment let Samsung beat them with much more attractive phones with better hardware specifications coupled with the growing Android OS and ecosystem. Samsung’s phones provided the top end users with significantly better OS experience and better Apps.

Nokia in the meanwhile could only muster up 4 top level smartphones including the highly anticipated Pureview 808 with its 41MP sensor. The phone however failed to excite as many users as anticipated. With the Windows 8 phones, Nokia may soon provide a competitive alternative to the high end Android smartphone and iPhone. However it may still be difficult for Nokia to gain back its lost glory for a while.

Nokia’s Asha may stall but not steal market share

Nokia realized rather too late that the single minded focus at high end phones using Symbian earlier couldn’t meet the growing demands of consumers. While the smartphone market changed rather drastically with the iOS and Android, the feature phone market too saw a sea change with cheaper phones filled to the brim with features including dual sim connectivity, Wi-Fi and much more.

The feature phone was no longer just about making and receiving calls or SMSes. Nokia replied with the Asha series of full touch feature phones, each with compelling features and exclusive Nokia applications as well as an attractive pricing. However, for Nokia, it was too little too late, users in the higher price segment of Rs 5000-10000 had already made the transition to Android phones, while users below the price segment where being wooed by a multitude of options including several low end Android phones.

While Nokia sits prettily at the top of the feature phone heap, it’s a heap that’s slowly eroding. Largely due to migrating users and price conscious buyers who are no longer swayed by Nokia brand. For example; for the price of Nokia Asha 305 at Rs 4390, users may prefer investing a bit more and buy a low end Android smartphone from Samsung or buy a mid-range smartphone from Micromax, Karbonn et al. Nokia Asha 305 however has still managed to keep Nokia’s numbers healthy, but can do nothing more.

Is it too late for Nokia?

The changing landscape of mobiles would mean more and more smartphones being sold over feature phones. It would mean greater number of low price entrants from hardware manufacturers (OEM) such as Mediatek and Simtronics as well as PC manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo. For the low price segment, Asha series is fighting a losing battle.

At the premium end, Windows 8 provides a significant alternative to both iPhone and Androids. However, with Windows 8 also being offered by Samsung and HTC at the moment (perhaps more in the future). Nokia is again getting into a crowded space. It may take more of Nokia’s ingenuity in marketing and technology to stand apart and do better. For now Nokia must gather its wits and fight the threat of Samsung and concentrate on the Windows competition later.


The mobile market has changed tremendously in less than 5 years. While the old guard is more or less disappeared, Samsung will continue to grow from its rising star image and gain significantly from all of Android’s growth, Nokia will probably fall further next quarter before recovering its growth path with subsequent Windows 8 phones.

For now, Samsung will continue its growth feeding on dissatisfied Nokia consumers. The real challenge for Samsung lies in gaining the same growth by converting iOS users which is probably an uphill task.

  1. Sudarshan Rangarajan says

    All a company needs sometimes is one great product, marketing and (most importantly) getting the timing right.
    I thought that Nokia would get it right with Meego.. but they botched everything, every time.

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