Smartphone Sales Jumped Nearly 50% in the Third Quarter of 2012


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Research firm Gartner today released the results of it's analysis of third quarter 2012 smartphone sales. According to its data, worldwide sales of smartphones are up 46.9% from the third quarter of 2011 and account for 39.6% of all mobile phone sales. These figures are reminiscent of shipment numbers unveiled by Canalys last week, suggesting that customers are buying smartphones nearly as fast as smartphone manufacturers can ship them.

This huge growth in the smartphone market happened despite a 3.1% decline in the worldwide sales of all mobile phones. 428 million mobile phones were sold in the third quarter of 2012.

"After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.”

The unsurprising winners in the race to sell mobile phones were Apple and Samsung, whose combined market share is 46.5% according to Gupta. In particular, Samsung saw a surge in the third quarter, shipping nearly 98 million mobile devices - a 18.6% increase in market share from the third quarter of 2011. Apple increased its mobile phone sales market share by around 1.6%. Interestingly, Chinese manufacturers such as ZTE, Huawei Device, and TCL Communication also saw their market shares increase slightly over the past year.

The familiar losers were also all accounted for in Gartner's chart. Nokia, RIM, HTC, and Motorola failed to compete well with Apple and Samsung, losing mobile device market share. In particular, Nokia saw a huge decline, with its mobile phone sales declining 21.9% in the third quarter 2012. It lost 4.7% of its global mobile device sales market share, and dropped to seventh place in Gartner's smartphone sales estimates.