UPDATE 1-Samsung overtakes Nokia in Western Europe - IDC

Thu May 5, 2011 2:26pm EDT

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HELSINKI, May 5 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) rose to the No. 1 spot in the Western European cellphone market in the first-quarter, overtaking long-term market leader Nokia (NOK1V.HE) on its home turf, research firm IDC said.

Losing the No 1 position in the home market, where Nokia has been the dominating force since the 1990s, marks another setback for the struggling Finnish handset maker who still makes more phones than its rivals due to its strong position in emerging markets.

Samsung's sales rose 5 percent year-on-year in the region, with market share rising to 29 percent, while Nokia sales dropped 10 percent, and its market share slipped to 28 percent, IDC said on Thursday.

Nokia's market share in smartphones sold in Western Europe dropped to 20 percent from 41 percent a year ago and it lost market leader position to Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in smartphones.

"These results show how volatile this market is and how important it is not to underestimate the trends," IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said in a statement.

"Nokia is one of the most recognized and appreciated brands in Europe, but Samsung was the one understanding the trends first and moving faster," he said.

Samsung moved early to make touchscreen devices, it has focused strongly on Google Inc's (GOOG.O) popular Android platform, and it has rolled out a wide range of mid-range feature-phones.

"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," Jeronimo said. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki, Editing by Jane Merriman and Gerald E. McCormick)

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