Bangalore: Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 1.75 billion units in 2012, a 1.7 per cent decline from the previous calendar year, according to technology researcher Gartner, Inc.
Smartphones continued to drive overall mobile phone sales, and the fourth quarter of 2012 saw record smartphone sales of 207.7 million units, up 38.3 per cent from the same period last year, it said.
“The last time the worldwide mobile phone market declined was in 2009,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.
“Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year.”
Demand for feature phones remained weak in 2012 and in the fourth quarter. Feature phone sales totalled 264.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, down 19.3 per cent year-on-year.
Gartner analysts expect feature phones sales to continue to fall in 2013. Gartner predicts that sales of worldwide smartphone sales to end users will be close to one billion units in 2013, and overall mobile phone sales to end users are estimated to reach 1.9 billion units.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple and Samsung together raised their worldwide smartphone market share to 52 per cent from 46.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2012. Samsung ended the year in the number one position, in both worldwide smartphone sales and overall mobile phone sales.
Huawei had a good fourth quarter, which helped it reach the number three position among smartphone vendors for the first time. In 2012, Huawei sold 27.2 million smartphones to end users, up 73.8 per cent from 2011.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, Samsung’s overall smartphone sales continued to accelerate totalling 64.5
million units, up 85.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011. In 2012, Samsung totalled 384.6 million mobile phones sales, of which 53.5 per cent (up from 28 per cent in 2011) were smartphone sales.
Apple’s sales reached 43.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 22.6 per cent year-on-year. In 2012, Apple totalled 130 million smartphone sales worldwide.
While demand for iPhones in the fourth quarter remained strong, consumers’ demand favoured the less expensive iPhone 4 and 4S models. The arrival of the iPad Mini also created a dilemma for some users when deciding to upgrade an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5, or buy the new tablet.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, Nokia’s handset sales improved from a good response to its Asha mobile phones and launch of the latest Lumia Windows Phone 8 models. It was not sufficient to stop Nokia from losing further market share, totalling 18 per cent, the lowest it has ever been. In 2012, Nokia reached 39.3 million smartphone sales worldwide, down 53.6 per cent from 2011.