Mobile phone sales down 1.7 percent in 2012

The smartphone market might be booming, but overall mobile phone sales across the world were down 1.7 percent in 2012 as demand for feature phones continues to weaken, according to market research firm Gartner.

The smartphone market might be booming, but overall mobile phone sales across the world were down 1.7 percent in 2012 as demand for feature phones continues to weaken, according to market research firm Gartner.

 
A total of 1.75 billion mobile phones were sold last year, down slightly on 2011's figures. Feature phone sales amounted to 264.4 million in the fourth quarter, a drop of 19.3 percent compared to the same time the year before.
 
“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.”
 
At the same time, smartphones continued to dominate the market, with record sales of 207.7 million units in the fourth quarter, a 38.3 percent increase year-on-year. 
 
Samsung topped the list, with 64.5 million smartphone sales in the fourth quarter, a whopping 85.3 percent increase compared to 2011. The company sold a total of 384.6 million mobile phones throughout the year, with 53.5 percent of them being smartphones.
 
 Mobile phone sales down 1.7 percent in 2012
 
Apple saw smartphone sales of 43.5 million units in the fourth quarter, an increase of 22.6 percent on 2011. Demand for iPhones remains high, but customers are opting more for the iPhone 4 or 4S than the newest model, mainly due to lower prices.
 
Samsung and Apple increased their combined smartphone market share from 46.4 percent to 52 percent in the fourth quarter, securing their dominance in the market. Android grew its market share from 51.3 percent to 69.7 percent, while the market share for iOS fell from 23.6 percent to 20.9 percent.
 
“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.
 
Despite the overall drop in mobile sales, Gartner expects 2013 to see even more growth for smartphones, with 1 billion units expected to sell, which should bring the entire mobile phone market up to 1.9 billion units, a significant increase on 2012.