Gartner figures show over 301m smartphones were sold in the last quarter, driven by strong performances by Apple’s latest releases
Sales of smartphones continued to soar over the past three months, spurred on by huge growth in developing markets and the release of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, according to new research.
The latest quarterly sales estimates from analyst firm Gartner show that smartphone sales grew by more than 20 percent to reach 301 million units in the third quarter of 2014, with total sales throughout the year predicted to top 1.2 billion units.
The rise coincided with the launch of Apple’s latest smartphones (pictured below), which helped the company regain share in the smartphone market, whereas Samsung, which released its last flagship device in April, losing share.
The worldwide increase in sales was fuelled by rising demand in several developing markets, with Gartner seeing major growth in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where sales grew nearly 50 percent year on year.
Elsewhere, the US achieved the highest growth in developed markets with a 18.9 per cent rise, however Western Europe continued to decline with a 5.2 percent fall in sales.
“Sales of feature phones declined 25 percent in the third quarter of 2014 because the difference in price between feature phones and low-cost Android smartphones is reducing further,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
In contrast, sales of standard mobile phones remained level throughout the third quarter 2014, with 455.8 million recorded.
The figures also showed a major shift in terms of the companies that sold the most smartphones, with those ranked third to fifth all Chinese, with Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo seeing their combined share rise by 4.1 percentage points. Xiaomi in particular saw a spectacular 336 percent rise, leaving less than a million units separating the three.
The combined market share of the two companies, Samsung and Apple, was 37.1 percent, down seven points year-on-year. Smartphone market leader Samsung saw its share fall to 24.4 per cent from 32.1 percent in Q3 2013 as it sold 73.2 million units in Q3 2014, compared with 80.4 million a year earlier. In China, Samsung’s biggest market, smartphone sales fell 28.6 percent.
Apple’s share increased slightly from 12.1 percent in Q3 2013 to 12.7 per cent a year later, thanks to sales of 38.2 million units compared with 30.3 million a year ago.
As far as overall sales (smartphone and featurephone combined) were concerned, Samsung maintained its number one position, although its market share was whittled down to 20.6 percent from 25.7 percent.
Despite exiting the smartphone manufacturing business earlier this year, Nokia kept second place in the sales charts but saw its overall share fall from 13.8 per cent to 9.5 per cent. In terms of volume, the Microsoft-owned brand saw a decline of almost 20 million units to a total of 43.1 million. Apple, in third place, closed the gap on Nokia, with 38.2 million units sold.
In the third quarter of 2014, smartphones accounted for 66 percent of the total mobile phone market, and Gartner estimates that by 2018, nine out of 10 phones will be smartphones.
“With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too and address the needs of upgrade users that aspire to premium phones, but cannot afford Apple or Samsung high-end products,” said Ms. Cozza.
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