Samsung continues to grow its lead over Apple, the smartphone industry and the mobile phone market on the whole, Gartner announced Aug. 14.
During the second quarter of 2013, Samsung's portion of the smartphone market grew to nearly one-third (31.7 percent, up from 29.7 percent a year ago), while Apple's share fell, from 18.8 percent to 14.2, though its sales increased.
Apple sold 31.9 million iPhones during the quarter, compared with 29 million a year ago, while Samsung sold 71.4 million, up from 45.6 million.
Indeed, the highly competitive smartphone was the one to watch, growing 46.5 percent year-on-year, while feature phone sales fell 21 percent. For the first time ever, said Gartner, sales of smartphones exceeded those of their simpler counterparts. (According to IDC's data, that milestone was passed during the first quarter of this year.)
Smartphone shipments totaled 225.3 million units during the quarter, up from 153.8 million a year ago. Feature phone shipments totaled 210 million units.
On the whole, mobile phone shipments rose 3.6 percent, to 435 million phones during the quarter.
"With second quarter of 2013 sales broadly on track, we see little need to adjust our expectations for worldwide mobile phone sales forecast to total 1.82 billion units this year," Gartner Principal Analyst Anshul Gupta said in a statement. "Flagship devices brought to market in time for the holidays, and the continued price reduction of smartphones will drive consumer adoption in the second half of the year."
The quarter was also a milestone one for Microsoft's Windows Phone OS, which for the first time, overtook BlackBerry to be the third top-selling mobile platform. Windows Phone's share rose to 3.3 percent, from 2.6 percent, while BlackBerry's fell from 5.2 percent to 2.7 percent.
Nokia, the predominant backer of the Windows Phone platform, saw sales fall year-over-year, but shipments of its Lumia smartphones jumped 112.7 percent during the quarter, thanks to its expanded portfolio.
"With recent announcement of the Lumia 1020, Nokia has built a wide portfolio of devices at multiple price points, which should boost Lumia sales in the second half," said Gupta.
He added that Nokia faces "tough competition" from Android devices, particularly aggressively priced ones from Chinese manufacturers.
Regarding Samsung and Apple, Gupta pointed out that the mid-tier market will be where most of the arm-wrestling takes place. It will be "critical" for Samsung that it "step up its game in the mid-tier and also be more aggressive in emerging markets."
Apple is rumored to be working on a lower-end version of the iPhone that it will introduce in September.
With Apple's average iPhone selling price (ASP) at its lowest since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007—due to strong sales of the deeply discounted iPhone 4—Gupta called the rumored low-end device a tricky proposition for Apple.
"While Apple's ASP demonstrates the need for a new flagship model, it is risky for Apple to introduce a new lower-priced model, too," wrote Gupta.
"Although the possible new lower-priced device may be priced similarly to the iPhone 4 at $300 to $400, the potential for cannibalization will be much greater than what is seen today with the iPhone 4," he continued. "Despite being seen as the less-expensive sibling of the flagship product, it would represent a new device with the hype of the marketing associated with it."