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Samsung Sets 2012 Smartphone Shipments Record As Huawei Enters Top 3

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Samsung leads the way as vendors ship more smartphones than ever before

Samsung set new worldwide smartphone shipments records during the fourth quarter of 2012 as Huawei entered the top five for the first time, according to the latest IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Manufacturers shipped 219.4 million smartphones during the period, accounting for 45.5 percent of all mobile phone shipments – the highest percentage ever.

Samsung shipped 63.7 million (29 percent) of these, a record for a single quarter, contributing to a total of 215.8 million during 2012, itself a yearly record. IDC says that demand for its smartphones across all price-points handed it the advantage over arch-rival Apple, which only offers one range – the iPhone.

Smartphone shipments rise

Huawei Ascend D2 Android Smartphone CES 2013Apple shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones during the quarter, giving it a 21.8 percent share of the market, driven by high demand in China and the US. Curiously,  much of its success was down to its older models, with the Cupertino-based company unable to produce enough iPhone 4 units to satisfy demand.

Apple has reportedly slashed component orders for the iPhone 5 due to less than anticipated demand for its flagship smartphone. This, and the continued success of the iPhone 4, has led to suggestions that Apple could be preparing to launch a cheaper iPhone to compete with Android and to target developing markets.

Huawei finished third in the table for the first time ever, thanks to its inexpensive smartphones and high-end Ascend product range, while Sony secured fourth place. Chinese manufacturer ZTE was fifth during the quarter, thanks to international diversification efforts and lower-cost smartphones in many emerging markets.

“The high-growth smartphone market, though dominated by Samsung and Apple, still presents ample opportunities for challengers,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Vendors with unique market advantages, such as lower-cost devices, can rapidly gain market share, especially in emerging markets. A good example is Huawei, which overtook LG as a Top 5 vendor in the overall mobile phone market and passed HTC to become a Top 5 smartphone vendor.”

Nokia, HTC and RIM shipped the third, fourth and fifth most smartphones during the entire of 2012 but were absent from the top five for the fourth quarter. Nokia has reported strong sales of its Windows Phone 8-based Lumia range, however, while RIM is due to launch its first smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system on Wednesday.

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