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Smartphones drive mobile phone sales

14 February 2013, 13:37

Cape Town - Mobile phone sales declined slightly in 2012, but smartphones are still the engine of growth, a survey has shown.

According to Gartner, 1.75 billion phones were sold in 2012, declining 1.7% from a year earlier, but smartphones jumped 38.8% in the last three months.

"Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Globally, dominant players Samsung and Apple have pulled away from the competition by increasing their market share to 52.6%. Huawei reached the third spot, but Gupta warned that it was not secure in that position.

"There is no manufacturer that can firmly lay claim to the No 3 spot in global smartphone sales.

"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," Gupta added.

Samsung sold 384.6 million mobile phones, of which 53.5% were smartphone sales, while demand for the iPhone was healthy. The California-based firms sold 130 million worldwide, but consumers favoured cheaper iPhone 4 and 4S models.

Despite the hype around Nokia's Windows Phone devices, the former global cellphone leader had more success with the Asha range of phones. Nokia sold 39.3 million smartphones in 2012, down 56.3% from 2011.

In terms of operating systems, Gartner statistics showed that Android continued its dominance of the mobile market at 69.7%, followed by iOS at 20.9%.

The figures do not include BlackBerry's recently launched BlackBerry 10 platform and Microsoft's relatively young Windows Phone OS is at 3%.

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