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5/6/2011
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Nokia Drops To Number Two Across Europe

Samsung surged ahead to take the number one spot in Western Europe for all phones, while Apple surpassed Nokia in smartphone sales.

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Nokia has lost ground in its home market of Western Europe, and fell to the number two spot in two separate segments, according to data from IDC.

Overall, the Western European phone market grew by 5% during the first quarter, with 45 million phones shipped IDC said. Samsung increased its phone shipments by 5.3% to 13.2 million devices (feature phones and smartphones combined). Conversely, Nokia's shipments dropped 10.3% to a total of 12.6 million devices. These numbers give Samsung the overall lead in Western Europe with 29.3% of the market. Nokia ranks number two with 27.9% of the market.

There may only be 1.4% separating the two, but the psychological significance has to be huge for Nokia, which has dominated worldwide phone sales for years. Western Europe is considered Nokia's home turf, and now the market leader there is its Korean competitor.

Rounding out the rest of the top five phone providers in Europe, Apple lands in the third slot with 9.8% of the market, RIM is number four with 7.8%, and HTC is number five with 7.8%.

Dialing down more specifically into smartphone sales, the picture is a bit different. Apple's shipments to Western Europe rose dramatically by 48.9% to 4.4 million devices in the quarter, while Nokia's smartphone shipments dropped by 15% to 4.2 million devices. Apple is the number one smartphone provider in Europe, with 20.8% of the market. Nokia is number two, with 19.6%.

Again, the difference isn't huge in terms of raw numbers, but Nokia has led the smartphone market for a decade with its Symbian platform. Western Europe has been is stronghold. No longer.

Rounding out the rest of the top five smartphone providers in Europe, Research In Motion takes the third slot with 16.5% of the market, HTC is fourth with 16.5% of the market, and Samsung lands in the fifth slot with 12.1%.

"Samsung and Apple achieved outstanding milestones this quarter in the region," said Francisco Jeronimo, IDC's European mobile devices research manager, in a statement. "Samsung became the biggest mobile phone vendor in Western Europe and Apple the biggest smartphone vendor. These results show how volatile this market is and how important it is not to underestimate the trends. Companies like Nokia may have strong brands and big market shares as Nokia always had, but can be overtaken by their competitors on a blink of an eye."

Nokia floundered with its Symbian and MeeGo platforms through 2007-2010 and was unable to bring attractive, competitive products to market fast enough to ward off the iPhone and Android onslaught. It has since given up entirely on its own platform software, and in February announced that it would make smartphones with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform in the future. Its first WP7 devices aren't expected to arrive until late 2011 or early 2012.

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