HELSINKI/SEOUL Samsung Electronics and HTC are predicted to be the big winners in the global cellphone market in the second quarter, benefiting from booming demand for their smartphones running Google's software.
Google's Android software platform in just a few years has taken the No 1 spot on the smartphone market, and analysts are increasingly convinced its growth helped Samsung last quarter to end Nokia's 15-year reign as the largest smartphone maker globally.
Nokia and LG Electronics -- who have failed to keep up with the smartphone market -- lost market share in the quarter, showed a Reuters poll of 46 analysts.
"We expect second quarter earnings to reveal a widening gulf between the winners and losers and further illustrate the 'changing of the guard' as Apple, HTC and Samsung continue to increase market share," said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.
Apple is due to report on July 19 and Nokia on July 21.
In terms of overall cellphone market volumes, Nokia still leads the pack with 95.5 million phones, boosted by its strong position in emerging markets, followed by Samsung's 73.7 million.
However, analysts expect Samsung will narrow the gap in the coming quarters and one sees it overtaking Nokia in 2012.
They expect Apple sold some 16.9 million iPhones in the second quarter, twice as many as a year ago, but less than in the previous quarter as the novelty of its iPhone 4 model has started to wear off.
Taiwan's HTC, which has quickly climbed the charts and is now the seventh largest cellphone maker globally, is expected to have sold 11.4 million phones in the quarter, compared with just 5.4 million a year earlier.
The cellphone market is expected to see little impact from growing economic worries and show a healthy 10.7 percent volume growth in the quarter, helped by strong demand for smartphones and good demand for cheapest models on emerging markets.
THE SAMSUNG WAVE
Samsung, which saw profit from handset division halving just a year ago due to a lack of compelling products to compete against the iPhone, has staged a strong comeback.
Samsung may have sold 19 million smartphones in the second quarter and will easily beat its 2011 smartphone sales target of 60 million units, analysts said.
"There were few products in the market that can match Galaxy S II as Apple appears to be delaying new iPhone debut due to disruptions in parts supply, while Nokia continues to fail to introduce competitive lineup," said Jin Sung-hye, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.
Samsung's Galaxy S II, the sequel of its flagship smartphone Galaxy S, has sold more than 3 million units since its debut in late April. Some analysts expect the ultra-slim phone running on the Android platform to become Samsung's best-ever model with potential sales of 20 million units.
Samsung's success contrasts with its local rival LG Electronics, the third-largest phone maker globally by volume, which only last week slashed its sales targets and is likely to report a fifth-consecutive quarterly loss from handset sales.
LG has been slower than Samsung to refocus on smartphones and its smaller scale has held it back from profiting from rising demand for cheaper phones.
But it has been gradually narrowed losses and overall performance is on a recovery path, largely helped by solid demand for Optimus 2X and Optimus Black smartphones.
Investors and analysts will closely look for comments on effect of March earthquake and tsunami in Japan which has hit component supply of many handset vendors.
"Component supply from Japan will remain a key theme but our expectation is that the majority of manufacturers will report a negligible impact," said CCS' Blaber.
No 9 handset vendor Sony Ericsson, which has delayed some of its new model roll-outs due to the earthquake and tsunami, will start the handset vendors earnings season on July 15 and Samsung will likely wrap the season on July 29.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)