Worldwide mobile phone sales to users totaled nearly 426 million units in the first quarter of 2013, a slight increase of 0.7 percent from the same period last year, led by handset makers Samsung, Nokia and Apple, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.
The Asia/Pacific region was the only region to show growth in mobile phone sales this quarter, with a 6.4 percent increase year-on-year, while worldwide smartphone sales totaled 210 million units in the first quarter of 2013, up 42.9 percent from the first quarter of 2012. In the first quarter of 2013, sales of mobile phones in the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region declined 3.6 percent, the North America and Latin America’s mobile phone market fell 9.5 and 3.8 percent, and Japan saw its mobile phone sales drop 7.3 percent.
"More than 226 million mobile phones were sold to end users in Asia/Pacific in the first quarter of 2013, which helped the region increase its share of global mobile phones to 53.1 percent year-on-year," Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner said in a statement. "In addition, China saw its mobile phone sales increase 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and its sales represented 25.7 percent of global mobile phone sales, up nearly 2 percentage points year-on-year."
Samsung remained in the top position, growing 13 percent in the first quarter of 2013, as its share of smartphones reached 30.8 percent, up 3.2 percentage points from the first quarter of 2012. Nokia’s mobile phone share dropped 4.9 percentage points in the first quarter of 2013 mainly due to a steep decline in feature phone sales. The company’s position in the smartphone market dropped to 10th place in the first quarter of 2013, from No. 8 in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Sales of the Apple iPhone reached 38.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 as the company was able to burn some of the inventory built at the end of 2012 as iPhone 5 was rolling out in more markets. The report noted China is a key contributor to overall sales for Apple, and Gartner analysts saw evidence of this in the first quarter of 2013, when sales reached close to 7 million units in mainland China alone thanks to the lower price of the iPhone 4.
In the first quarter of 2013, smartphones accounted for 49.3 percent of sales of mobile phones worldwide. This is up from 34.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012, and 44 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. On the other hand, sales of feature phones contracted 21.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013. In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android continued to increase its lead, with nearly 50 percent more Android smartphones in the market than a year ago.
"Feature phones users across the world are either finding their existing phones good enough or are waiting for smartphones prices to drop further, either way the prospect of longer replacement cycles is certainly not good news for both vendors and carriers looking to move users forward," Gupta noted.