Samsung takes No. 1 spot in U.S. cellphone market

HELSINKI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd 005930.KS passed Motorola Inc MOT.N in the third quarter to became the leading cellphone handset vendor in the United States, research firm Strategy Analytics said on Friday.

The research firm said handset shipments in the United States -- the largest cellphone market in the world -- defied the economic gloom and grew 6.2 percent from a year before to 47.4 million phones in the quarter.

“Attractive bundling schemes from operators, healthy subsidies and aggressive pre-stocking by distributors ahead of the holiday season helped to lift volumes,” said Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics.

South Korean vendors Samsung and LG Electronics Inc 066570.KS both won more of the market, controlling 22.4 percent and 20.5 percent respectively.

“Samsung’s growing retail presence and an attractive high-tier handset portfolio for all of the big four operators have proved crucial in grabbing the prestigious title of the No. 1 vendor in the world’s single largest handset market,” analyst Bonny Joy said in a statement.

At the same time, Motorola, which had been the top vendor in its home market since 2004, saw market share drop to 21.1 percent from 32.7 percent a year before.

Last week Motorola warned that its fourth-quarter results would miss expectations and said its struggling mobile phone business would weaken further in the first half of 2009.

Still, all three in total sell less phones globally than Finland's Nokia NOK1V.HE, which dominates emerging markets and has a global market share of around 38 percent.

In the U.S. market, Nokia saw its share fall from a year ago to 8.4 percent -- which was still up from levels seen earlier this year.

"It doesn't feel to us like a sustained recovery. Nokia is still struggling," Strategy Analytics' Mawston said. In the U.S. market Nokia also trailed Blackberry-maker Research in Motion Ltd RIMM.ORIM.TO, which had more than 10 percent share for the second quarter in a row. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)