According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global handset shipments grew 11 percent annually to reach 445 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple was the star performer, capturing a record 8 percent market share worldwide during the quarter. Full-year handset shipments reached 1.6 billion units globally in 2011, with annual growth of 14 percent.

Alex Spektor, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Despite continued macroeconomic difficulties in major markets like Western Europe, global handset shipments grew a reasonable 11 percent annually to reach 445 million units in Q4 2011. Apple was the star performer, shipping 37.0 million iPhones worldwide and capturing a highest-ever 8 percent market share. Apple’s growth was fuelled by intense demand for its refreshed iPhone 4S, as well as the availability of three generations of iPhones at a variety of price points at operators like AT&T in the United States.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Nokia’s global handset shipments declined 8 percent annually to 113.5 million units in Q4 2011. Volumes were buoyed by the sales of Nokia’s low-end dual-SIM models in emerging markets like Southeast Asia, but were a little soft overall, as initial shipments of Microsoft Lumia phones could not offset declining Symbian sales. Hot on Nokia’s heels, second-ranked Samsung captured 21 percent share with shipments of 95.0 million units. Samsung’s 18 percent annual growth was fuelled by robust shipments of its broad Galaxy-branded 3G portfolio, headlined by the Galaxy S2 superphone.”

Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Smartphone specialist Apple shipped 93.0 million handsets worldwide in 2011, nearly doubling the previous year’s volumes. Currently in just its fifth year of participation in the handset market, Apple is on track to ship well over 100 million units during 2012. China is becoming a key market for Apple this year, and we expect Apple’s share to grow rapidly in 2012, despite countless copycat rivals.”