Smartphones outshipped feature phones for the first time, with market leader Samsung sending out more devices than the rest of the top five combined.
Research agency IDC issued its shipment figures for the first quarter of 2013, with the global market up 4% year on year. This was driven by the 41.6% growth in the smartphone market, which now accounts for 51.6% of the total handset industry. Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst at IDC, said: 'Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days when phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away. As a result, the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are most dependent on smartphones.'
At the head of the market was Samsung, which shipped 70.7 million devices during the quarter, up 60.7% on 2012. It accounts for 32.7% of the smartphone market. Apple was second and shipped a first quarter high of 37.4 million units. Despite the record, last quarter marked the first time the manufacturer had single digit growth (6.6%) in almost four years. It holds a 17.3% market share.
Boosted by the success of its Nexus 4 and L-Series devices, LG moved back into the top five for the first time in two quarters. The third biggest smartphone maker 10.3 million units, up 110.2% on 2012, with it sitting on a 4.8% share.
The rest of the top five comprised aggressive Chinese manufacturers, whose focus on lower-tier but high-spec smartphones has been disrupting the market. Huawei saw 94.4% growth in shipments to 9.9 million, with it shifting its focus onto smartphones and targeting regions outside of Asia/Pacific. It has a 4.6% share. Behind it was ZTE, which benefited from strong sales in Asia/Pacific and North America, which lead to shipments increasing by 49.2% to 9.1 million.
Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team, said: 'In addition to smartphones displacing feature phones, the other major trend in the industry is the emergence of Chinese companies among the leading smartphone vendor. A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry and HTC among the top five. While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones.'
Author: Graeme Neill