Samsung is extending its lead over other phone manufacturers and capitalising on closest rival Apple's failure to launch a new iPhone this year.
According to IDC, overall global shipments in the second quarter of this year were 153.9 million, up 42.1% on 2011. Samsung accounted for almost a third of these, shifting 50.2 million devices during the period, up 172.8% on 2011. IDC said this was a new record driven by sales of the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note.
Apple had an expected decline in smartphone sales on the first quarter of this year, but shipments were still up on 2011. It shifted 26 million smartphones during the quarter, up 27.5%. IDC said its tailing off in sales was customary, given Apple's traditional once-a-year release cycle.
Samsung (32.6%) and Apple (16.9%) now hold an almost 50% share of the smartphone market. However, Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst at IDC, said the two companies contrast sharply in their approaches to the market: 'Samsung employs a shotgun strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high profile models. While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains.'
While Samsung and Apple are streaking ahead, smartphone growth is actually slowing. IDC said the 42.1% increase is the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2009. Researchers at Strategy Analytics also noted the decline, which they said was the worst since 2009's third quarter. Associate director Alex Spektor said: 'A volatile global economy, maturing penetration of smartphones among contract mobile subscribers, and some Apple fans holding off purchases in anticipation of a new iPhone 4 model later this year were among the main causes of the slowdown.'
According to IDC, shipments at Nokia were down 38.9% to 10.2 million as the manufacturer underwent another transitional quarter. IDC said demand for Symbian and MeeGo handsets hit an all-time low as Windows Phone shipments more than doubled. It described Lumia sales as 'steady' but warned the manufacturer 'had a long path to travel' before it could reclaim previous volumes.
However, there was better news for HTC, which reclaimed fourth spot from ZTE. It shipped 8.8 million phones during the quarter, down 24.1% year on year, but the research said a strong performance in the Asia/Pacific market helped drive sales.
IDC senior research analyst Ramon Llamas said: 'With half of 2012 behind us, vendors are looking ahead to 2013 and how key markets – particularly Europe and emerging markets – will play out. Despite recent manoeuvres to shore up several countries within the Eurozone, the effectiveness of these efforts remains to be seen. Meanwhile, emerging markets will continue to be strong contributors due to their sheer size and growth trajectory, but how much they can offset potential declines in other countries is unclear.'
Editor: Graeme Neill