Sales For Smartphones Trump Feature Phones For First Time
August 14, 2013

Sales For Smartphones Trump Feature Phones For First Time

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Sales of smartphones – including iPhones and Android devices – have surpassed basic “dumb” phones for the first time, according to research firm Gartner. Sales of the smart devices now account for nearly 52 percent of all mobile handset sales, based on figures for the second quarter 2013.

This comes as worldwide mobile phone sales grew by 3.6 percent in the same quarter, and it isn’t just smartphones in North America and Europe that are moving past their more basic counterparts. "Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe exhibited the highest smartphone growth rates of 74.1 percent, 55.7 percent and 31.6 percent respectively, as smartphone sales grew in all regions,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Feature phone sales will likely remain reasonably strong in developing markets, where battery life is an issue and cellular networks are still lagging in speed, making smartphones useless technologies for many of these market regions.

While Apple helped launch the smartphone revolution with the 2007 launch of the iPhone, Google’s Android OS continues to gain market share. In fact, Android now accounts for 79 percent of the global smartphone market, which is up from 64.2 percent just last year.

Apple actually saw a year-over-year decline, falling by more than four percent from 18.8 to 14.2 percent. Microsoft’s Windows Phone also surpassed BlackBerry in the number three position with the former rising from 2.6 percent market share to 3.3 percent. BlackBerry fell from 5.2 percent to 2.7 percent.

This comes even as BlackBerry launched its BlackBerry 10 operating system and handsets earlier this year. The company also isn’t entirely moving past the aging BlackBerry 7 OS and announced this week a new handset that utilizes BB7 for emerging markets.

Nokia’s once dominant Symbian operating system fell from 5.9 percent share to a practically nonexistent 0.3 percent for the second quarter. The company has in essence abandoned its older OS and instead has launched a series of Windows phone devices.

“With the recent announcement of the Lumia 1020, Nokia has built a wide portfolio of devices at multiple price points, which should boost Lumia sales in the second half of 2013,” added Gupta. “However, Nokia is facing tough competition from Android devices, especially from regional and Chinese manufacturers which are more aggressive in terms of price points.”

Even with the Windows Phone devices Nokia saw its share as a handset vendor slip from 19.9 percent to 14.0 percent. This trails industry leader Samsung, which saw its market share increase from 21.5 percent to 24.7 percent year-over-year. While Apple had seen a decline in operating system market share, it did see a boost in vendor sales, which rose from 6.9 percent to 7.3 percent. LG remains the number four smartphone vendor with 5.1 percent of the market, up from 3.4 percent.

The rest of 2013 should also be a good one for mobile handsets.

“With second quarter of 2013 sales broadly on track, we see little need to adjust our expectations for worldwide mobile phone sales forecast to total 1.82 billion units this year,” said Gupta. “Flagship devices brought to market in time for the holidays and the continued price reduction of smartphones will drive consumer adoption in the second half of the year.”