smartphone researchGlobal smartphone shipments totaled a record high 700 million in 2012, a 43% year-over-year increase, according to the latest data from Strategy Analytics. Samsung’s star outshone that of other handset manufacturers, in capturing a 30% share of the worldwide market and widening its lead over Apple and Nokia.

“Global smartphone shipments grew 38 percent annually from 157.0 million units in Q4 2011 to 217.0 million in Q4 2012. Global smartphone shipments for the full year reached a record 700.1 million units in 2012, increasing robustly from 490.5 million units in 2011. Global shipment growth slowed from 64 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2012 as penetration of smartphones began to mature in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe,” elaborated senior analyst Neil Shah.

Samsung shipped a record 213 million smartphones worldwide in 2012, the largest number ever shipped by a smartphone vendor in a single year, according to Boston-based Strategy Analytics, surpassing Nokia’s previous record of 100.1 million units in 2010. “Despite tough competition in stores and courtrooms, Samsung continued to deliver numerous hit models, from the high-end Galaxy Note2 phablet to the mass-market Galaxy Y,” executive director Neil Mawston added.

“Apple grew a healthy 46 percent annually and shipped 135.8 million smartphones worldwide for 19 percent market share in 2012, broadly flat from the 19 percent level recorded in 2011. Apple had a strong year in developed regions like North America, but this was offset partly by its limited presence in high-growth emerging markets such as Africa.”

Taken together, Samsung and Apple alone accounted for half of total global smartphone shipments in 2012. Their outsized marketing budgets, extensive distribution channels and innovative product portfolios enabled the two market leaders “to tighten their grip on the smartphone industry,” analyst Linda Sui continued.

Samsung and Apple’s growing share of the global smartphone market was gained at the expense of Nokia in particular. “The growth of Samsung and Apple has continued to impact Nokia. Nokia retained its position as the world’s third largest smartphone vendor for full-year 2012, but its global market share has dropped sharply from 16 percent to five percent during the past year.

“Nokia’s Windows Phone portfolio has improved significantly in recent months, with new models like the Lumia 920, but we believe the vendor still lacks a true hero model in its range that can be considered an Apple iPhone or Samsung S3 killer.”

Strategy Analytics’ “Global Smartphone Shipments Reach a Record 700 Million Units in 2012” can be found by following this link.