top 10 smartphone brands in the world

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This post about the top 10 smartphone brands in the world will from one angle come as a huge knowledge base content and from another angle, a form of motivation to boost and inspire those who are currently planning to launch a startup, managing their startup or just trying to start a career in technology. 

Also, if you want to be updated top mobile phone companies in the world, stick around this post to not only see the chart but know how and why they rose from zero to their current rank.

This post will always be updated to remove companies that will drop off and be added to the top 10 charts in the remaining quarters of 2019.

The top 10 smartphone brands in the world

Below are the details of the top 10 smartphone brands in the world in 2019 based on brand valuation and revenue data.

Samsung

samsung hq

With the help of their sophisticated Galaxy S series flagship device, they’ve managed to sit on top of their competition for several years. 

Samsung is a South korean tech company whose journey into the tech industry started back in the year 1938 by Lee Byung-chul with just $27; dealing with locally grown produce and also manufacturing noodles. Samsung ventured into electronics in the year 1970 and they’ve built their empire from there, acquiring other smaller companies from different tech fields and also self-creating their own branches into various other fields.

Their journey into Mobile phone production actually kicked off in the year 1988 and since then, they’ve been at the forefront alongside other top smartphone manufacturers, pushing mobile technology over its limits one step at a time.

Samsung’s story is quite an interesting one, taking a brief look at their historical timeline[Link to samsung’s historical timeline], you will see how they’ve evolved over time to be one of the technology giants in the world today and becoming a bigger part of south korean GDP.

The word Samsung which means in Korea, SAM(Three) and SUNG(Stars). The three stars found on the first generations of Samsung’s logos is said to culturally represent something big which samsung has over time grown to become. 

Samsung has over 489,000 people employed across 80 different countries working on their numerous subsidiary companies.

While Samsung ventured into electronics in 1970, when they started producing black and white televisions, washing machines. In 1980, they entered into telecommunications hardware industry Their foot didn’t get wet in the tech industry until 1993-1995 when the company’s Chairman, Lee Kun Hee pushed forward a new management philosophy encouraging the quality of products as one of its integral tenets.

samsung SPH-WP10

Samsung always had the monstrous innovative spirit instilled inside them. They went ahead to pioneer the production of a wristwatch which doubled as a phone. The gear is called the SPH-WP10. The unique device could not only tell time but also make phone calls for up to 90 minutes.

Samsung Smartphones

Samsung jumped into smartphone production long before Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS became a thing.

Samsung SPH-i300
Samsung SPH-i300

While not being the first to pioneer smartphones it was the first to kickstart the industry with a device that evolved into the smartphone we all know today. The device is the first PDA phone and it’s called the SPH-i300, it was designed for sprint and it ran on Palm OS.

Samsung’s Top Selling Mobile Phone

Samsung’s top-selling phone of all time may not be what you expected it to be. It’s the E1110 which launched in 2009. The phone sold 150 million units as of the time production ended in 2012.  When compared with other companies, Samsung’s E1110 feature phone will be the 8th best selling mobile phone of all time. 

Let’s forget the feature phones, in 2012 Samsung launched Galaxy S4 which sold 80 million units to become Samsung’s best selling Smartphone of all time and the 14th best selling mobile phone overall, the 3rd best selling smartphone of all time behind  Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and the Symbian OS-based Nokia 5230. The Galaxy S4 is also the best selling Android-based phone of all time.

Samsung Smartphones and Android OS

Speaking of Android-based phones. As you already know, Google owns Android which powers more than 88% of smartphones in the world right now.

How Samsung missed out on buying Android

Android was not an in-house developed software of Google, the popular mobile OS started as a startup co-founded by Andy Rubin who in 2005 put Android Inc up for sale because they lack enough funds to keep the startup running.

Samsung was among the companies that had the opportunity to buy the OS but decided to take a pass.

In 2004 the eight(8) team members working on Android then had to fly to South Korea to meet 20 Samsung’s executives.  After making a brief presentation in front of the 20 Samsung executives. They expressed disbelief in the project.

According to Andy Rubin, they laughed him and his Android team off the boardroom. 

Two weeks later, which happened to be early 2005, Andy Rubin and his team made their pitch to Google who had a lot of money to throw around.

Google made a swift $50 million acquisition and the rest became history which later on unfolded to become the reality we live in today.

Had it been Samsung acquired Android, would the OS be what it’s today? One thing is sure, it would have been Samsung dominating the entire mobile phone business; dominating both the hardware and software aspect of the industry.

Samsung’s Bada OS Mobile Operating System

In 2011, Samsung started considering launching their own OS and soon released Bada OS on 28 February 2013. The OS lived short as Samsung immediately pushed the brake pad on the project and merged it into Tizen OS which is an open-source project formed from the ashes of dying Nokia and intel’s Meego OS. We will get to know more about this OS soon. Continue reading.

Samsung S8500
Samsung S8500

The only recognized phones Samsung launched that runs Bada OS was the sturdy Samsung Wave phones which the first generation, Samsung S8500 Wave sold over a million units in four months

Samsung in 2019

Is Samsung doing well in 2019? Well, only statistics could tell. As of the first quarter(Q1) of 2019, Samsung had  23.1% of the smartphone market share, ranking No.1 top above Huawei which has 19% and Apple which has 11.7%.

Why Samsung is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

High-End

Mid range

Low-end

Apple

Apple hq

10 Years ago, Steve Jobs climbed the stage during Macworld event in the city of San Francisco to give a keynote which will lead to the announcement of the first iPhone device and also begin the change that will later revolutionize the smartphone landscape. 

Video of Steve announcing the first iPhone

The type of innovation Apple introduced with the first generation of iPhone opened a new competition ground, companies that couldn’t contend jerked into oblivion and the ones that were able to keep up the competition has always been running to catch up since then.

Apple as a company didn’t start their existence with smartphones. Their history dates back in 1976. So let’s rewind and start from the beginning.

Apple’s Humble Beginning

The American multinational technology company does have quite a dramatic history which was the foundation that helped them evolve to what they are today.

Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. The trio started the company building computers in Steve Job’s basement. The first product, Apple I sold quickly through into Apple II. 

From the left: Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, Steve Wozniak

After two years of operation, the founders were able to invest into hiring a staff of computer designers and a production line was setup.

Macintosh 1984
Macintosh 1984

Apple continued pushing out new and innovative computers and the 1984 original Macintosh was one of them. 

However, a series of problems existed which caused friction in Apple’s growth. One was the high price of their products, two, limited application library and the third was the power struggles between the top executives. 

The power toggle caused Wozniak to leave Apple in 1985 and have since then remained an honorary employee. 

Jobs left afterward to start NeXT. Wozniak would later develop the Linux OS and set the pace for open source. You can read details about him here

Apple’s Problem Started

The early 1990s saw an increase in PC production which introduced different computer manufacturers into the market, resulting in price competing computers being produced everywhere. Apple started bleeding; losing a lot of its market share mostly to Microsoft.

Apple made various resuscitation attempts but the most notable was bringing in CEO Gil Amelio who went ahead to buy Job’s NeXT company in 1997. With the purchase, Apple killed two birds with one small stone.They solved Apple’s desperately failed OS strategy and also bringing their co-founder, Jobs.

In 2000, Jobs found himself again as the CEO of Apple but before then, he managed to finally return Apple to profitability under a campaign which had the slogan, “Think Different”; launching the iMac in 1998.

Still in high spirit, Apple went ahead to acquire several tech companies so as to enlarge their space of operation and broaden their software portfolio. 

In 2007, Jobs renamed the company from Apple computer company to Apple Inc and later the same year, the groundbreaking iPhone was launched.

Steve Jobs later resigned as the companies CEO in August 2011 due to health complications while Tim Cook replaced him as the new CEO.

Jobs later died of leukemia two months after resigning.

From 2007 to date, Apple has launched a number of iPhones. Each coming with its own superpowers that made it unique from hundreds of smartphones launched the same year.


Why Apple is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

  • Apple iPhone XI

Huawei

Huawei hq

The Chinese technology company is a multinational networking and telecommunications equipment company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. 

Founded by Ren Zhengfei in 1987. He is a Chinese ex-military officer.

When Huawei started with the manufacture of phone switches and since then, expanded its business and manufacturing operations to include providing consulting and operations services to both chinese and international enterprises and building telecommunications networks. 

Huawei started manufacturing phones in 1997. 

The company has approximately 140,000 employees. It’s quite interesting to know that 46% of these workers are involved in research and development which is the secret behind the numerous technology limits they keep scaling across. 

Huawei has 21 R&D(research and development) institutes spread across several countries around the world; UK, pakistan, Canada, Turkey, Russia, to name a few. Huawei pump in billions of dollars into their R&D institutes, as of 2013, they invested US$13.8 billion in R&D.

As of 2019, Huawei was the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world. A position they took gradually after toppling Ericsson in 2012 and overtook Apple in 2018 as the second-largest manufacturer in the telecommunications-equipment market behind Samsung.

Huawei VS US Government

In 2019, the US Government sanctioned Huawei over the allegation that its spying on their smartphone users and feeding data to the Chinese Government. The sanction later brought about Huawei being blacklisted and banned from doing business with any company in the US.

In response to the ban, Google retrieved Huawei’s Android licence; leaving them with a temporary license until 12th August. Facebook also responded by stating their apps won’t be coming pre-installed on any new Huawei phone. ARM also reacted by taking away the license that have enabled Huawei develop their own chipsets; HiSilicon.

Huawei was left devastated; thrown into a desperate situation. They needed to quickly find ways to fill up the vacuum created by the severed business ties. 

Huawei had to go and unravel the mobile operating system they’ve being working discreetly. Trying to create their own ecosystem.

But, on 29 June 2019, US President Donald Trump during G20 summit reached an agreement to resume trade talks with China and also eased off the sanction on Huawei.

Why Huawei is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

Oppo

Oppo hq

Oppo is a Chinese company founded by a man called Chen Mingyong in the year 2001. Oppo deals on consumer electronics and mobile communications. The company is headquartered in Dongguan, China and it’s a child company of BBK group.

Apart from Smartphones, the company is also known for manufacturing blu-ray players, Hi-fi, Audiovisuals and electronic devices.

In 2016, Oppo topped the chart in the Chinese smartphone market, topping its rivals, Huawei, Xiaomi and its sister company Vivo. That same year, it ended 8th on the chart worldwide.

Vivo

Vivo hq

Chinese Technology Company, owned by BBK Electronics, the same company that owns Oppo. Realme and OnePlus. 

Founded in 2009 by Shen Wei and headquartered in Dongguan China. Vivo is well known for the numerous innovative trends they’ve been pushing out. The company manufactures smartphones, smartphone accessories, software and other online services. It also develops software for its phones and distributes them through its Vivo App Store.

It took Vivo until 2015 after its launch to rank among the top 10 smartphone makers in the world, garnering a global market share of 2.7%.

Vivo started its expansion project outside China in 2014 has expanded to over 100 countries around the world, thus India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,Thailand ETC. The expansion continued in 2017, when wiggled itself into Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Nepal. 

The brand Vivo is currently experiencing massive growth. 

Vivo have so many interesting phones in the market today bearing their brand name. Their flagship series, the Vivo V have seen so many additions in the year 2019 which includes;

Vivo announced and launched the first smartphone with an under-display fingerprint scanner in 2018 beating Samsung and Apple on that. The phone called Vivo Apex, which is the first smartphone on their Nex Series features a 91.2% screen-to-body ratio, first of its kind because it found a way to tuck in the front-facing camera into a pop-up slider on the top of the phone. The next phone on the Nex series was the Nex Dual Display edition which features a second OLED screen and a triple rear camera embodied at the back of the phone also, a lunar ring instead of a sliding module.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi Hq

Xiaomi came into the smartphone business in 2011 when it released its first smartphone. Previously, the company was an Android custom ROM team. 

Founded by Lei Jun and Lin Bin in 2010. The company now manufacturers mobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, smartphone devices, laptops and smart TVs.

Xiaomi rose quickly in China, grabbing a whole lot of the overall Chinese smartphone market share to become the country’s largest smartphone company in 2014.

As of 2018, was ranked fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer, still leading in China and the second in India.  

Xiaomi has around 15,000 employees. With presence in several countries already they  keep expanding their bases further into more countries. In 2019, they ventured into the NIgerian smartphone market space. 

Lei Jun, Xaiomi’s founder, and CEO is currently worth US$12.5 billion. He’s the 11th richest person in China and ranks 118th richest in the world.

Xiaomi Devices

Xiaomi has a large array of smartphones to its name, categorized into different series like the Mi Note, Mi Max, Mi Mix, and the Redmi Series. 

LG

LG hq

Though recently drowning in the competition, LG has seen better days. 

The South Korean technology company was among the elite smartphone giants which through innovation and competition has moved smartphone technology to what it’s today. 

Samsung’s next door neighbour in Seoul is still one of the best-known smartphone manufacturers in the world.

LG was founded in 1958 by Koo In-hwoi. So, unlike the new generation Chinese companies, LG has stuck around for some time. Initially dubbed the name “GoldStar”, it was created after the Korean war with the sole purpose to push South Korea forward with domestically-made electronics.

They were the first technology companies to manufacture Radios, TVs, Refrigerators, Washing machines and Air conditioners and later on, they ventured into Smartphone production.

In 1995, LG, still bearing the name GoldStar had Lak-Hui, a chemical company merged to it. The company that emerged out of this merger was called Lucky-GoldStar, which was later shortened to LG. Now you know, while LG’s slogan is currently known to be “Life’s Good”, that’s just a catchphrase or slogan they only started using in 2004 and not the real meaning of the L and G. Other slogans they’ve used are; “Future’s Technology” and “Digitally Yours”.

That same 1995, LG acquired American based TV manufacturer, Zenith also making the world’s first CDMA digital mobile handset. 

In 1998 and 1999, LG developed the world’s first 60-inch plasma TV and established a joint venture with Philips as LG.Philips LCD which will later spiral into LG Display. 

LG as a company comprises of  four well defined business units: Home Entertainment, Mobile Communications, Home Appliances and Vehicle Components. The company has 128 operations around the world and around 83,000 people employed.

The Original LG(GoldStar) is Extinct

In 2002, in order to create a holding company, the original LG Electronics was split into two. The new LG company had the name LG EI.

In 2003, LG EI was merged into CI. LG CI was the legal successor of the former LG Chem(Lak-Hui). So, presently, the original GoldStar company does not exist. 

In December 2006, LG beat Apple by 2 months to launch a phone with a capacitive touchscreen.  The LG Prada which emerged in 2007 was actually the first phone with a capacitive touchscreen. 

But, LG is a company that has always been underrated in the smartphone industry never received the type of recognition Apple is receiving. The Prada never saw success the way iPhone did. It’s smaller 3.0” screen and limited 256k color range, 8MB(megabyte!) was not a match to Apple’s 3.5” display, 16M colors and 4GB of storage which was a lot of storage back in 2007.

LG Manufacturing Smartphones

LG GW620
LG GW620 – First Android Smartphone from LG

After toying away with the Symbian and Java mobile OS on their phones, LG started manufacturing Android Smartphones in 2010 with the LG GW620 being their first try. The phone was also known as the LG Eve

LG Eve was succeeded by LG Optimus GT540 the following year.

Since then, the company has released numerous smartphones under different series, the G series, W Series, V Series Etc have all seen noteworthy smartphones following trends and adding their own innovative technology.

The high-end flagship G series saw a recent addition called LG G8 and G8s Thinq in April 2019. Other noteworthy series includes the Mid-range W series which received LG W30 and W30 Pro and Lower LG W10 in June 2019.

Why LG is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

Google

Google hq

The search engine giant has a very interesting story behind its name. A story which most of us have heard in one way or the other. So, we will try and stick to the lesser known facts about Google.

Little Beginnings

Considered as one of the top four technology companies in the US alongside Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, Google started its operations in 1998 as Google Inc by Larry Page and Sergey Brin who were Ph.D. students at Stanford University, California. 

In the year 2005, Google reorganized its various interests into a conglomerate called Alphabet Inc. Google became Alphabet’s internet subsidiary while Alphabet itself became a parent company above all of Google’s interests. 

Google still remains Alphabet’s leading subsidiary with Sundar Pichai as its first CEO and Larry Page becoming Alphabet’s first CEO.

Google rapid growth has triggered a lot of in-grown products and acquired businesses and partnerships which Google has found a way to sync together.

Google’s Projects

  • Google search engine(Google Search), 
  • Google office suites designed for work and productivity (Google Docs, 
  • Sheets and Google Slides)
  • Note-Taking app(Google Keep)
  • The Gmail service, Google calendar, 
  • Cloud storage(Google Drive), 
  • Instant messaging(Allo, Duo and Hangout), 
  • Language Translation (Google Translate), 
  • Mapping and navigation services( Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth, Street View)
  • Video Sharing(YouTube)
  • Photo organizing and editing app (Google Photos)
  • Google’s Mobile operating system (Android)
  • Smart Speakers (Google Home)
  • Web Browser(Google Chrome)
  • Chrome OS (a lightweight OS based on Chrome browser)

Google despite being the owners of Android mobile operating system never manufactured their own mobile phones but partnered with other companies in the production of its Nexus devices(The phone models that led to the Pixel devices you see today).

Google managed the design, development, marketing and support of the Nexus devices but most of manufacturing were carried out by partnership with original equipment manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Motorolla and HTC, with Huawei manufacturing the last Nexus 6P in 2015.

On October 2016, Google announced its first smartphone in the Pixel hardware line. This line of phones will take succeed in the Nexus line of smartphones. The Pixel XL was manufactured by HTC. 

The Shift from Nexus to Pixels

While Google developed the Nexus phones through the Nexus program which made the phones co-developed with the original equipment manufacturers. The phones looked more and had so many references to the OEMs original devices. In 2016, Google decided to adopted a different approach for their smartphones after Rick Osterloh, former motorolla president joined Google as the senior vice president of hardware. 

Google wanted to create an ecosystem of in-house products and platforms which will later include Google home speakers, Google assistant intelligent, Google Daydream and the new Google’s virtual reality and to do that successfully they needed their phones to shut down the Nexus phones and come up with phones which were designed and marketed as Google products. 

After designing the Pixel Phone, Google initially contracted Huawei to manufacture the smartphone but Huawei turned the offer down after seeing that Google wouldnt be dual-branding their smartphones again.

The contract was given to HTC who created the first Pixel Phones.

Google announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL on October 2017 while discontinuing and removing the first generation of Pixel devices from their stores in 2018.

The second generation of Pixel phones were still contracted to HTC but as HTC was losing their smartphone market share rapidly to competition from Apple and Samsung, in 2017 they had to sell almost half of their design talent as well as exclusive rights to smartphone-related intellectual property to Google so as to focus on its Internet of Things(IoT) and virtual reality.

The third generation which was announced in October 2018 was manufactured by Foxconn, the same company that helps Apple with iPhone manufacturing.

Other Products in Google’s Portfolio

  • Virtual Reality (Google’s Daydream virtual reality headset)
  • Internet Services (Google Fiber, Google Fi and Google Station)

While Google has so many budding and already successful products to its name, they have also killed off so many of them. If you care to visit Google’s product cemetery and see the names of dead Google’s products you can do so by visiting Google’s Graveyard.

Lenovo

Lenovo hq

Lenovo is a Chinese technology company. It designs, develops, manufactures and sells personal computers, tablet computers, smartphones, servers, scanners and printers, storage devices, smart TVs, notebooks, supercomputers, desktops and workstations.

To get the complete details about Lenovo’s journey into Smartphone manufacturing, we have to track their origin back to November 1984 when the company was founded in Beijing and incoperated in 1988.

The founder, Liu Chuanzhi with a group of 10 engineers and about $30,000 started the company under the name New Technology Developer, Inc. 

They didnt keep the long and uninspiring name for too long, after a couple of years, it was changed to “Legend”. 

It was until 2003 that the rather too-common name, Legend was changed to “Lenovo”. Lenovo repotedly spent nearly $30 million to rebrand and advertise its new name. Acquiring huge billboards around the world and aired its commercials on television networks. The slogan reads, “Transcendence depends on how you think”.

Despite the changes in names, the companies new name still portrays its roots. Lenovo is a portmanteau that consists of “LE-” from Legend and “-NOVO”, which means the latin word for “new”. Basically, Lenovo means “the new Legend”. Quiet interesting, huh?

One notable event in Lenovo’s history was the recruitment ad on the front page if China Youth News in 1988.

The applicants were overwhelming, up to 500 job applicants in which 280 candidates were called for a written exam. Then, 120 candidates were selected for interviews and 58 were given official offers and brought onboard.

Among the 58 new employees who were of 26years old on average, the current Lenovo CEO, Yang Yuanquing was one of them.

Lenovo’s Little Humble Beginnings

Many successful technology companies you see today didn’t start off with silver spoons in their mouth and Lenovo was one of them.

After the Chinese Gorvenment approved Lenovo’s incorperation as a company. Funds were approved by the Chinese Academy  of Science where the 11 founders were staff members of the Institute of Computing Technology which the academy was attached to.

The first effort the new company made was to import televisions which failed woefully. The group staretd offering the service of conducting quality checks on computers for new computer buyers. 

Later on, they started developing circuit boards that would allow IBM-compatible PCs to process Chinese characters. This product later turned out to be Lenovo’s first success.

Lenovo also tried to market and sell digital watches.

Seeing the Light and Finally Breaking Through

The company had a very slow difficult start, they didnt see much success until 1990, under the name Legend, the light on the other end of the tunnel gradually started becoming brighter as success started coming their way.

The company released its first product in 1990, which was a PC. Lenovo wanted to mount on the back of IBM whose personal computers was doing so well and it turned out a success for them.  The PC was endorsed by the Chinese government through a program called Torch Program created by the Government to support Chinese innovators and entrepreneurs.

Acquiring IBM

The next step to sucess Lenovo took was enterering a partnership deal with US software company, Microsoft in 1997. At the time, the deal appeared to be the most lucrative business deal any Chinese company could ever pull off; setting the foundation for the company’s grand invasion in the early 2000s.

In 2005, Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC division, including the ThinkPad laptop and tablet lines all for US$1.25 billion while assuming an additional US$500 million of IBM’s debt to other companies. 

Not so long after the purchase, the company became the third-largest personal computer company in the world by volume.

Acquiring IBM’s PC division has to be the No.1 best decision Lenovo made throughout its history. Lenovo benefited three things from the acquisition which are, IBM’s renowned ThinkPad brand, IBM’s more advanced PC manufacturing technology, and the company’s international resources, which includes IBM’s global sales channels and operations team. 

IBM had a strong push on Lenovo as they ventured deep into the PC business; quadrupling Lenovo’s annual sales.

To add to that, Lenovo also acquired IBM’s x86 server business, which tightened their grip in the enterprise market.

Lenovo stepped up to be the No.1 world’s PC manufacturer in the world and since then has remained a world-leading brand when it comes to high-quality, cutting-edge personal computers.

Venturing Into the Smartphone Industry

Funny enough, Lenovo has always been all about PCs and computers with a little presence in the mobile phone space which they sold in 2008 for US$100 Million so as to focus on their PC manufacturing, but on 2009, seeing the increased attention towards the phones industry, they paid US$200 Million to buy it back.

As of 2009, Lenovo’s mobile division ranked third in China’s mobile handset market in terms of unit share. 

The smartphone revolution that started in 2007 and the hunger for a cut from the pie being offered by the opportuinities Google’s Android OS offered lured them into the Smartphone space.

There’s no better way to get started in the smartphone business but by taking advantage of one of the industry’s player that’s already going down and Motorolla presented the opportuinity.

In late 2000s, Motorolla, Inc was bleeding vigorously, suffereing from major losess. In a bid to survive, the company split into two; Motorolla Solutions and Motorolla Mobility. 

Motorolla will go ahead to sell its mobile division, Motorolla Mobility to Google. Not long Google flipped it back on sale reason being that it only wanted the mobile division just to have access to its numerous patents. 

Lenovo had made attempts to acquire the Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd, But, the Canadian Government blocked the attempt with reason that the acquisition posess security concerns because BlackBerry devices are used by prominent members of the government. 

Seeing Google putting Motorolla Mobility out for sale, Lenovo saw the opportuinity and acquired the company in 2014 for just under US$3 Billion.

At the end of the transaction, Google succeeded in retaining Motorolla’s Advanced Technologies & Projects unit and all but 2,000 of the company’s numerous patents in return, Lenovo recieved royalty free licenses to all the patents retained by Google.

While the acquisition opened the doors for Lenovo into the US it also propelled Lenovo who was a new player in the smartphone industry in 2012 to rank the third-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and largest vendor of smartphones in mainland China in 2014.

The third quarter of 2016 ushered in an aggressive decrease in Lenovo’s combined global market share from 7.2% in 2014 to 3.9%. Experts have cited this reduction to their phones lacking strong branding and unique features to distinguish them in the competitive Chinese market where choking competition and market saturation is slowing demand for their products.

In response to this crashing market share, Lenovo would lay off 3,200 employees which are mostly from its Motorola smartphone business.

Why Lenovo is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

High-end phone

  • Lenovo Z6
  • Lenovo Z6 Pro
  • Lenovo Z6 Pro 5G Edition

Mid-range phone

  • Z6 Youth Edition

Low-end phones

  • Lenovo K6 Enjoy
  • Lenovo Tab V7

Nokia

Nokia hq

Nokia is a Finnish company which started its life as a paper production in 1865. The company was founded by Fredrik Idestam who was a mining engineer on the banks of the Tammerkoski rapids in the town of Tampere( then inside Russian Empire).

In 1868, Idestam built a second mill and in 1871 near the town of Nokia. With the help of his good friend, Leo Mechelin, Idestam’s mill later became a share company, calling it Nokia Ab(Swedish way of saying “Nokia Company”).

They renamed the paper production company to Nokia.

The name Nokia was derived from a river called “Nokianvirta”, on the banks of which Idestam initially started his company.

The Nokianvirta itself derived its name from an old Finnish word which meant “Sable”.

In 1904, Nokia entered a partnership with Finnish Rubber Works which was owned by Eduard Polon.

Dating back to 150 years ago, it’s probably the oldest smartphone company on this list. But, before it even took a step into electronics, Nokia Company expanded its business into rubber, electricity and cables.

The Rubber business picked up quickly because it leveraged the electricity supplied by Nokia and so did the cable business.

Nokia’s rubber boots are still on sale to this day but not by Nokia itself. 

In 1967, the three companies, Nokia, Finnish Rubber Works, and Cable business completely merged together still focusing on their four major businesses: forestry, cable, rubber, and electronics.

Rise and Fall of Nokia’s Television Business

In 1977, Nokia acquired so many company’s businesses including television makers, Solara, Swedish electronics and computer maker, Luxor AB and French television maker Oceanic including other companies.

Finally venturing into telecommunications infrastructures, technology developments and licensing in the 1990s. Nokia became the third-largest television manufacturer of Europe behind Philip and Thomson.  This rank they kept until they stopped TV business in 1996.

After all the numerous acquisitions, Nokia’s base revenue went down to US$2.7 billion. FInland was experiencing its worst recession in historyand the collapse of the soviet union was the major cause of Nokia’s problems.

To keep the company running, Nokia needed to shed off some companies. Following a big restructuring plan, various companies was sold, split into a different company or even shut down entirely.

The company stopped production of cables in 1987, completely shutting down the sub-company. The following year, 1988, Nokia’s CEO, Kairaomo committed suicide.

Nokia draw breathe again when Jorma Ollila took Nokia as the CEO. He was the former head of the mobile phone business from 1990 and had advised  against selling the mobile phone division.

Nokia Venturing into Mobile Phone Business: The Smartphone Era

Among all of Nokia’s numerous acquisitions, the most important is the acquisition of Mobira in 1981, a mobile telephony company which helped build the company’s foundation in the mobile phone business.

Later that year, Mobira, under Nokia launched the Nordic Mobile telephone(NMT) service which was the world’s first international cellular network and the first to allow international roaming. In 1982, Mobira also launched Nokia’s first mobile phone, the Mobira Senator car phone. 

By then, Nokia still had no interest in manufacturing smartphones and was considering selling the division.

When Ollila took to office as the CEO, he decided to run Nokia as a telecom-oriented company; getting rid of other divisions like the power business.

The coming years, Nokia’s profit went from running low in 1991 to US$1 billion in 1995 and almost $4 billion by 1999.

In 1998, Nokia overtook Motorola to become the best-selling mobile phone brand  in the world.

By 2000, Nokia had 30% market share in the mobile phone market almost twice as large as its nearest competitor, Motorola.

Symbian OS

The same year, 1998, Nokia co-founded the Symbian Ltd with Psion which led to the PDA and smartphone operating system; succeeding EPCC32.

In 2001, Nokia went a little further to create the Symbian Series 60 platform and introducing it with their first camera phone, Nokia 7650. 

Nokia and the Symbian OS became the largest hardware and software makers in the world respectively. 

In 2008, Nokia completely acquired all of Symbian Ltd. Renaming the company to Symbian Foundation.

Things were rosy for Nokia. They raked in billions in profit and manufactured a lot of cutting edge phones.

The company would then be known for making the best camera phones. 

The Nokia 3600/3650 was the first camera phone on sale in 2003. 

In 2005 Nokia had partnered with German camera optics maker Carl Zeiss AG. That partnership was right in time when Nokia introduced the Nseries, which became their flagship line of smart phones for the next six years.

The Nokia N95, N82 with its xenon flash, won the award of “best mobile imaging” device in Europe in 2008. The N93 in 2006 was known for its specialized camcorder and the twistable design that switches between clamshell and a camcorder-like position. The N8 with a high resolution 12-megapixel sensor in 2010; the 808 PureView in 2012 with a 41-megapixel sensor; and the Lumia 920 flagship in 2012 which implemented advanced PureView technologies.

In 2002, Nokia wanted to make mobile gaming a thing, breaking into the market with Nokia N-Gage which Nokia attempted to break into the handheld gaming market with. However, the device failed woefully as it was unable to challenge the dominant market leader, Nintendo. 

By fourth quarter of 2007, its smartphone market share increased to almost 51%.

Then Problems Struck

In 2010 Nokia introduced its next flagship, the Nokia N8 after the previous flagship N97 failed to perform like other Nokia’s flagships had done. N8’s release was delayed for many months which tarnished the company’s image. Also facing intense competition from Apple with their fast rising iPhone and the rising Google. On 10 September 2010, Nokia’s CEO was fired and they brought in Stephen Elop from Microsoft who would become the first non-Finnish director in Nokia’s history.

The Symbian OS had been open source. However, in 2010 Nokia would take back control of the Symbian operating system under closed licensing. Gradually, other smartphone manufacturers using Symbian OS on their device slipped away to Android. Nokia became the only company using the platform, along with carrier NTT DoCoMo in Japan.

Nokia’s Symbian platform that had been the leading smartphone platform in Europe and Asia for many years was quickly becoming outdated and difficult for developers after the advent of iOS and Android. 

To counter this, Nokia planned to start using their MeeGo Linux operating system which was still under development. But right about that time, MicroSoft came knocking.

Nokia and MicroSoft

On February 2011, Nokia announced a “partnership” with Microsoft. Nokia will have to adopt MicroSoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS as its primary operating system on smartphones, and also integrate its services and platforms with its own, including Bing as a search engine, and integration of Nokia Maps data into Bing Maps. 

Nokia ended development on MeeGo and also refused to go the Android route; solely focusing on its Microsoft partnership.

However, Meegoo OS will eventually see the light on Nokia N9 and the Asha platform in 2013. 

After the announcement of the Microsoft partnership, Nokia’s market share collapsed.

Nokia’s first Windows Phone flagship was the Lumia 800, which arrived in November 2011 when Nokia was experiencing the worst times in their history. 

In March 2011, Nokia had introduced a new corporate typeface called “Pure”; announcing that it would adopt a new three-digit naming system for mobile phone products and stop using letters, effectively ending the Nseries, Eseries, and short-lived Cseries. That same day the Nokia 500 was introduced with the new system. 

When the Lumia 920 was announced in September 2012, it was classified as the first high-end Windows Phone that could challenge rivals due to its advanced feature set. 

With the Asha series selling strongly and making gains, Nokia’s smartphone sales and market share greatly increased throughout 2013, including in the North American market but it was still not enough to avoid financial losses.

In September 2013 Nokia announced the sale of its mobile and devices division to Microsoft. The sale was positive for Nokia to avoid further negative financial figures, to MicroSoft, they needed Nokia to produce more hardware for them and also they fear that Nokia was close to adopting Android and abandoning their alliance with Microsoft. 

In January 2014, the Nokia X was introduced which ran on a customised version of Android. It was a surprising and somewhat odd launch coming just weeks away from the finalisation of the Microsoft buyout. 

The purchased assets from Nokia were eventually written-off by Microsoft in 2015.

Finally, from 2009 to 2014, Nokia’s global brand value had fallen from 5th place to 98th place.

Nokia’s downfall was attributed to so many things, the Symbian developing team have claimed that the company’s upper management rejected hundreds of potential innovations during the 2000s that they proposed, including entirely rewriting Symbian’s code. 

Nokia after MicroSoft’s Acquisition

While MicroSoft acquired Nokia’s Mobile division, the original Nokia company still existed.

Nokia focused on network equipment through Nokia Networks. Still nursing plans to re-enter the Mobile phone business by 2016 when the non-compete clause they signed with MicroSoft must have expired. The company released Nokia N1, an Android tablet.

The Tablet was manufactured by Foxconn and was the first product following the Nokia’s sale.

Other products Nokia launched within this period was the OZO, which was a 360-degree virtual reality camera, with eight 2K optical image sensors.

In 2016, Microsoft Mobile sold its Nokia-branded feature phone business to HMD Global, which was a new company founded by  Jean-Francois Baril, a former Nokia executive. 

HMD was an associated factory in Vietnam to Foxconn’s FIH Mobile subsidiary. With the help of Nokia, a long-term licensing deal was secured which will make HMD the exclusive manufacturer of Nokia-branded phones and tablets while operating in conjunction with Foxconn. Nokia have no stake in the new company but they do have some inputs in the resulting devices.

The following year, HMD announced the Android-based Nokia 6 smartphone and later followed it up with Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, as well as a re-imagining of Nokia’s classic 3310 feature phone.

Why Nokia is on the list of top 10 smartphone brands in the world

  • Nokia 2.2
  • Nokia 4.2
  • Nokia X71
  • Nokia 9 PureView

Conclusion

This is complete details to the world’s top 10 mobile phone companies. One thing you must understand is that even the biggest companies today will one day fall and when the do fall, it will always be the smaller companies today who played their games well that will always take over from them, buying their assets and becoming big as well.

The cycle continues. That’s how technology evolve.

Which company do you fancy the most? Which company do you want to see on the list or removed from the list?

Share your thoughts and opinions on the comment box below.

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