Gartner Inc, the worldwide mobile phone sales in 2012 stood at 1.75 billion units registering a decline of 1.7 per cent from 2011.

The research firm attributes the decline in smartphone market to tough economic environment, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition. Also, the demand for feature phones remained weak in the fourth quarter of 2012. The feature phone sales stood at 264.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, registering a year-on-year decline of 19.3 per cent. Gartner estimates that the worldwide smartphone sale to end users is going to be close to 1 billion units in 2013. And the overall mobile phone sale to end users is estimated to reach 1.9 billion units in 2013.

Further, the smartphones continued to drive overall mobile phone sales. With the total sales of 207.7 million units, the fourth quarter of 2012 witnessed the highest number of smartphone sales, registering a growth of 38.3 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2011.

Further, Apple and Samsung together increased their worldwide smartphone market share from 46.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 to 52 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Samsung’s overall smartphone sales continued to increase and stood at 64.5 million units, registering a growth of 85.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011. In 2012, Samsung registered total mobile phone sales of 384.6 million units, out of which 53.5 per cent were smartphone.

Gartner attributes Apple and Samsung’s lead in the smartphone market to their strong brand image and quality products. The research firm points out that Apple and Samsung’s competitors even with comparable products struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers, who, in a tough economic environment, go for cheaper products over brand name.

Huawei is ranked third in the smartphone market. In 2012, Huawei sold 27.2 million smartphones to end users registering a growth of 73.8 per cent in sales from 2011. In 2013, the Ascend D2 and Mate are expected to help Huawei consolidate its position in the smartphone market. Also, international markets and Huawei’s ability to introduce high-end products is going to be the key to the company’s success in 2013.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple’s sales stood at 43.5 million units. In 2012, the company sold 130 million smartphones worldwide.  While the demand for iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2012 remained strong, consumers’ opted for the less expensive iPhone 4 and 4S models. Further, the launch of the iPad Mini also created a dilemma for some users while deciding whether to upgrade to 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 on account of encouraging sales of its Asha mobile phones and Lumia Windows Phone. Nokia’s share in smartphone market in 2012 stood at 18 per cent. According to Gartner, Nokia should continue focusing on its Asha series and further enhance its brand proposition by launching more devices and applications. It must also move up price point to achieve better margins.

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