Sales of smartphones accounted for 55 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2013, and reached their highest share to date, according to IT research firm Gartner.
Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 455.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 5.7 percent from the same period last year, and Gartner analysts said global mobile phone sales are on pace to reach 1.81 billion units in 2013, a 3.4 percent increase from 2012.
"Sales of feature phones continued to decline and the decrease was more pronounced in markets where the average selling price (ASP) for feature phones was much closer to the ASP affordable smartphones," Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "In markets such as China and Latin America, demand for feature phones fell significantly as users rushed to replace their old models with smartphones."
While Samsung’s share was flat in the third quarter of 2013, Samsung increased its lead over Apple in the global smartphone market, although Apple’s smartphone sales reached 30.3 million units in the third quarter of 2013, up 23.2 percent from a year ago.
"While the arrival of the new iPhones 5S and 5C had a positive impact on overall sales, such impact could have been greater had they not started shipping late in the quarter," Gupta continued. "While we saw some inventory built up for the iPhone 5C, there was good demand for iPhone 5S with stock out in many markets."
The report noted that in emerging markets, the iPhone 4S would continue to be the volume driver at the low end, as the lack of subsidy in most markets leaves the iPhone 5C too highly priced to help drive further penetration.
Meanwhile, computer maker Lenovo’s sales of smartphones grew to 12.9 million units, up 84.5 percent year-on-year, thanks to its ability to constantly raise its share in the Chinese smartphone market.
"Lenovo continues to rely heavily on its home market, which represents more than 95 per cent of its overall mobile phone sales," Gupta noted. "This could limit its growth after 2014, when the Chinese market is expected to decelerate."
In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Google Android surpassed 80 percent market share in the third quarter of 2013, which helped extend its leading position, and 41 percent of all Android sales were in mainland China.
"However, the winner of this quarter is Microsoft which grew 123 percent. Microsoft announced the intent to acquire Nokia’s devices and services business, which we believe will unify effort and help drive appeal of Windows ecosystem," Gupta said.
Nokia did better than anticipated in the third quarter of 2013, reaching 63 million mobile phones, thanks to sales of both Lumia and Asha series devices. Increased smartphone sales supported by an expanded Lumia portfolio, helped Nokia move up to the number 8 spot in the global smartphone market, the report said.