Business analyst Gartner today released its 2012 mobile phone sales estimates, reporting a 1.7% decline in overall mobile phone sales from 2011.
Even with the decline, though, customers bought 1.75 billion phones last year and smartphone sales in particular were up over 38%. Gartner analysts predict that nearly 1 billion smartphones will be sold in 2013. Feature phones, on the other hand, are quickly falling out of vogue. Sales of low-cost feature phones were down 19.3% in 2012.
“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.”
Predictably, Apple and Samsung led the smartphone market, and now control over half of smartphone market share. Samsung, with its variety of Android handsets ranging from low-cost to the premium Galaxy line-up, now leads the market.
Chinese manufacturers are gaining ground, though. Similar to a report last week from analyst Canalys, Gartner shows that Huawei is now the the third largest seller of smartphones, and ZTE is now fourth in worldwide mobile phone sales. Huawei's sales were up 73.8% from 2011.
“There is no manufacturer that can firmly lay claim to the No. 3 spot in global smartphone sales,” said Gupta. “The success of Apple and Samsung is based on the strength of their brands as much as their actual products. Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers, who, in a tough economic environment, go for cheaper products over brand.”