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By 14 August 2012 | Categories: news

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Following the release of the IDC’s analyses of Q2 2012’s global smartphone market performance, market research firm Gartner announces its take on the state of the worldwide mobile phone market during the second quarter of this year.

According to Gartner, worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users amounted to 419 million units during Q2 2012, which is a 2.3% decline from Q2 2011. Smartphone sales accounted for 36.7% of total mobile phone sales, and increased by 42.7% in the previous quarter.

Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, stated that mobile phone demand slowed down further during Q2 as a result of the challenging economic environment. Also contributing to the decreased demand was the fact that users postponing upgrades in order to take advantage of high-profile device launches and promotions that will only become available later this year. Demand for feature phones continued to decrease, which further contributed to the weakening of the mobile phone market.

“High-profile smartphone launches from key manufacturers, such as the anticipated Apple iPhone 5, along with Chinese manufacturers pushing 3G and preparing for major device launches in the second half of 2012, will drive the smartphone market upward. However, feature phones will continue to see pressure,” Gupta added.

Samsung continues to shine

In Q2 2012, Samsung’s mobile phone sales remained stellar, increasing 29.5% year-on-year, assisting the Korean tech giant in extending its lead over both Apple and Nokia quarter-on-quarter.

This quarter’s growth for Samsung was driven by record sales of its Galaxy smartphones, with smartphones now accounting for more than half (50.4%) of all Samsung mobile device shipments, or 45.6 million units according to Gartner.

Gartner said that demand for the Samsung Galaxy S3 was particularly high, exceeding  Samsung’s own expectations, with a reported ten million units reached within two months after its release. The Galaxy S3 was the best-selling Android mobile product of the quarter and Gartner asserts that sales could have been higher if not for product shortages.

Cupertino counts days until new iPhone launch

During Q2 2012, consumer demand for the Apple’s iPhone weakened as sales dropped by 12.6% compared to Q1 2012, but was still high enough to increase by 47.4% year-on-year. Gartner said that Apple may continue to deliver weaker-than-usual quarterly iPhone sales during Q3 2012, if the next version of its iPhone is not released within that quarter.

Just like the IDC, Gartner stated that Samsung and Apple continued to dominate the smartphone market. According to the analytics firm, the two tech giants took about half of the smartphone market share, widening the gap between themselves and other smartphone market players. Gupta pointed out that no other smartphone vendor had a market share close to 10% during Q2 2012.

“In the race to be top smartphone manufacturer in 2012, Samsung has consistently increased its lead over Apple, and its open OS market share increased to one-and-a-half times that of Apple in the second quarter of 2012,” Gupta said.

And what of Espoo?

According to Gartner, Nokia’s mobile phone sales declined by 14.8% in Q2 2012, as the Finnish phone giant fought to defend its feature phones sales against new emerging device manufacturers.

Gartner asserter that the Espoo-based firm succeeded in that respect, since it managed to win the feature phone market share battle as its sales increased quarter-on-quarter. In contrast to its feature phones, Gartner said that Nokia’s Lumia smartphones continue to struggle in its aim of luring smartphone consumers away from Android.

“Declining smartphone sales is worsening Nokia’s overall position, as it had already lost the No. 1 position to Samsung in the previous quarter and is facing reduced profitability due to continuous declining sales of premium smartphones,” explained Gupta.

In terms of the smartphone OS (operating system) market, Android extended its lead via an increase of 20.7 percentage points in market share during Q2 2012. Apple’s iOS market share increased marginally (0.6%) year-on-year, but declined 3.7 percentage points quarter-on-quarter as users in most markets around the globe remained reluctant to buy an iPhone ahead of the forthcoming iPhone 5 announcement.

Gartner’s analysts are of the opinion that the arrival of the iPhone 5 will result in the greatest upgrade opportunity for Apple yet, since the new iPhone is expected to sport a new design, larger display and be a greater technological leap from the iPhone 4S, than the 4S was over the iPhone 4.

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