Worldwide smartphone sales passed feature phones for the first time in the second quarter of 2013, according to analyst house Gartner.
The firm said smartphone sales hit 225 million in the quarter, up a whopping 46.5 percent on the same period last year. This is compared with 210 million feature phones sold in Q2 2012, a year-on-year decline of 21 percent. Total worldwide mobile phone sales were 435 million for Q2 2013.
The historic switch between sales of smartphones and feature phones was expected after first quarter figures for device sales showed smartphone sales at 210 million and feature phones at 225 million.
The huge demand for smartphones has been driven by vendors such as Nokia, ZTE, LG and of course Apple and Samsung. Samsung in particular saw huge growth, with sales rising from 45.6 million in Q2 2012 to 71 million in 2013.
Apple, meanwhile, saw more moderate growth, rising from 29 million to 32 million, as its cycle of only launching one major device per year dampens growth, compared with firms such as Samsung and its numerous Android devices hitting the market.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said the falling price of smartphones has made them much more affordable for those in emerging markets.
“Areas such as China, India and Latin America are all growing strongly, now that the price of a smartphone has fallen from around $120 in 2012 to just $60 now, so the gap between costs of a smartphone and feature phone are very small,” he said.
One interesting point from the data gathered by Gartner is that Microsoft has now surpassed BlackBerry to take third place in the market, adding to the Canadian manufacturer's woes.
However, despite the climb the numbers are hardly cause for Champagne at Redmond, with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform now accounting for 3.3 percent of the market, compared with 2.7 for BlackBerry.
This growth for Microsoft was driven by Nokia, with sales of Lumia devices growing by 112 percent over the two quarters. However, Gupta said the firm faces a tough future as it is still too reliant on feature phones, while Android rivals such as Huawei and ZTE which are focusing their efforts on smartphones that are cheaper than Nokia devices.
“Nokia still doesn’t have a $100 smartphone. Although it’s brought out devices like the 520 or 720, its sales of smartphones – just seven million in the last quarter – are very low,” he said.
By contrast Android has almost 80 percent of the market and iOS 14 percent. With the launch of the next iPhone around the corner, Apple will be hoping to maintain its share of the market in the face of rampant Android growth.
While sales of smartphones passing feature phones is perhaps not surprising, there are still numerous benefits to a feature phone over an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4, as V3 outlined earlier this year.
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