Global Handset Sales Fall But Smartphones Continue To Gain

Galaxy S3People are starting to shun conventional mobile phones also known as “feature phones.” But sales of smartphones continue to grow.

According to sales data compiled by Gartner, global mobile handset sales in 2012 hit 1.75 billion units. However that was a nearly 2 percent (1.7 percent) drop from the previous year.

According to the firm, “Demand for feature phones remained weak in 2012 and in the fourth quarter.” Indeed, feature phone sales were off over 19 percent in Q4. By contrast demand for smartphones continues.

As already widely documented Samsung and Apple were the two dominant smartphone makers of 2012. Samsung, which stole Nokia’s slot as the world’s top OEM last year, sold 385 million handsets overall. Roughly 53 percent of those were smartphones. Apple sold 130 million iPhones by comparison.

Together Apple and Samsung represented 52 percent of all smartphone sales in Q4. Below is Gartner’s chart showing total 2012 mobile handset sales (feature phones + smartphones):

2012 smartphone sales

Nokia maintains a number two overall position after Samsung and ahead of Apple. The company’s lower-end Asha smartphones saw success in 2012 in developing markets. However its Lumia Windows Phone line experienced mixed results. There was some success in Europe but Windows Phones and Lumia in particular remain something of a dud in North America.

2012 smartphone sales

In terms of operating systems, Android widened its handset lead over iOS in Q4, with nearly 70 percent of global smartphone sales. The margin is lower in the US, however. Android sales are increasingly synonymous with Samsung, as the Korean company has come to totally dominate the Android market.

Gartner argues that 2013 will see the emergence of the long-awaited “third ecosystem.” That’s either going to be Windows or BlackBerry. The recent introduction of the Z10 from BlackBerry and some early enthusiasm suggests that third slot may become more competitive than previously anticipated.

Related Topics: Apple: iOS | Apple: iPhone | Channel: Mobile Marketing | Google: Android | Microsoft: Mobile | Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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