Smartphone Shipments Exceed Feature Phones For First Time

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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Smartphone shipments now account for more than half of all mobile phones as Samsung leads the way

Shipments of smartphones have overtaken those of feature phones for the first time ever during the first quarter of 2013.

According to the latest version of the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone tracker, 216.2 million smartphones were shipped during the period, accounting for 51.6 percent of a grand total of 418.6 million units.

The smartphone market grew by 41.6 percent over the last 12 months, but contracted slightly by 5.1 percent quarter-on-quarter, owing to the seasonal decline in demand.

Smartphone shipments

Samsung Galaxy S4“Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC. “As a result, the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are most dependent on smartphones.”

Samsung maintained its position as the leading smartphone manufacturer, shipping more units than the next four vendors combined. It shifted 70.7 million units, giving it a 31.7 percent share of the market.

The Korean manufacturer is also the top vendor of mobile phones in general, with a 27.5 percent share of the market, almost double that of Nokia’s 14.8 percent share, which has fallen by 25 percent over the past year.

The company will be optimistic going forward given that it released its new flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, last week.

Apple’s 37.4 million shipments were a first quarter record for the company and helped it achieve a 17.3 percent share of the market. This will be a welcome boost, given that profits have gone down for the first time in a decade. The 6.6 percent year-on-year increase was the first time Apple has posted a single digit growth rate since 2009.

The battle for third

LG is the latest company to hold the number three spot, chiefly thanks to sales of its L Series and Nexus 4 Android devices.

HTC, Sony and BlackBerry have all released new flagship smartphones in recent months, but none were able to challenge the top five. All three companies have aspirations of becoming the third largest smartphone company in the world, as do Huawei and ZTE.

The Chinese manufacturers are currently number four and five respectively and IC says that there could be a possible shift in power in the near future.

“In addition to smartphones displacing feature phones, the other major trend in the industry is the emergence of Chinese companies among the leading smartphone vendors,” said noted Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry (then Research In Motion), and HTC among the top five.

“While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones.”

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