Samsung remained comfortably in the lead in the second quarter—with Apple as a distant second—in the growing but highly fragmented worldwide smartphone market.
Vendors shipped a total of 432.1 million mobile phones in the second quarter of 2013, a 6 percent increase from 407.7 million units in the second quarter of 2012, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. Garnering record shipments, Samsung captured nearly a third of the entire smartphone market.
On the heels of Samsung's Galaxy S 4 launch during the quarter, the company saw its shipments reach new levels, according to IDC. Samsung continued to see success of its Galaxy S III smartphones, due partly to a price cut on the smartphones following the launch of the latest Galaxy handset.
Meanwhile, arch-rival Apple posted its second-lowest year-over-year iPhone growth rate in almost four years, according to the IDC report, which suggested some buyers were holding off on iPhone purchases in advance of an expected next-generation device launch this fall.
The report noted Apple's growth is likely to accelerate globally, assuming it launches a lower-cost iPhone and continues to penetrate prepaid markets in the quarters to come. The company still managed to ship 31.2 million iPhones in the second quarter.
But it's not just a Samsung and Apple story. Users in the enterprise and elsewhere have lots of options.
"The smartphone market is still a rising tide that's lifting many ships," Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement. "Though Samsung and Apple are the dominant players, the market is as fragmented as ever. There is ample opportunity for smartphone vendors with differentiated offerings."
Sustaining its market momentum from the first quarter of 2013, LG saw total shipments more than double the volume from a year ago for the second consecutive quarter and landed in third place. A variety of Lenovo’s LePhone brand family phones, such as the A728t, helped push Lenovo back into the top five of worldwide mobile phone vendors after a two-quarter absence, driven in large part by shipments to 3G operators in China.
"Market opportunities exist at all levels, including the high end," Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement. "While Samsung and Apple accounted for significant share of the overall market, they were not the only vendors active in the high end of the market, and recent device introductions and upcoming launches signal more vendors targeting this space. Comparisons will certainly be made to the flagship Galaxy and iPhone models, but clearly the competition refuses to be shut out altogether."
Part of that competitive field is ZTE, which rounded out the top five global mobile phone vendors, The company, which has set a goal of 50 million smartphone shipments this year, is selling higher-cost products in a wider variety of countries including India, where it recently launched six new smartphones, such as the Grand X, this month.
"The opposite end of the spectrum is just as, if not more, interesting," Llamas said. "Lower-priced smartphones continue to gain traction, but the key for vendors will be to keep prices low while still offering premium devices and services. We fully expect to see large-screen smartphones and other flagship devices establish a presence within the lower-priced smartphone segment as well."
Apple may be a distant second, but don't count it out, at the high end or the low end. Many believe Apple will introduce a lower-cost iPhone this fall, along with its next flagship iPhone.
The race continues to get more interesting.