As per latest figures presented by Gartner, global sales of mobile phones touched almost 428 million units in the third quarter of 2012, thereby registering a 3.1 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011. Gartner found smartphone sales accounting for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, as smartphone sales rose 46.9 percent quarter-on-quarter. Despite the year-on-year decline, Gartner analysts believe there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter.

Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst, at Gartner added, “After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially. In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.”

Android 4.2 to feature in the Nexus 4

Android leads the OS pack

The study found that smartphones continued to play an important role in pushing the sales of mobile phones worldwide, with sales rising to 169.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012. Apple and Samsung continued their lead in this space. “Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” Gupta noted. 

Finnish manufacturer, Nokia slipped from the number three position in the second quarter of 2012 to number seven in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012. While Canada-based RIM moved to the number three spot, closely followed by HTC at number four. “Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters,” added Gupta. 

Among other things, Gartner analysts noted, “While seasonality in the fourth quarter of 2012 will help end-of-year mobile phone sales to end users, Gartner analysts said that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season.” Analysts now believe that consumers are either cautious with their spending or are looking at new gadgets such as tablets, as more attractive presents. 

Samsung’s mobile phones sales reached almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012, thereby registering a growth that is up 18.6 percent year-on-year. The South Korean giant's Galaxy smartphones emerged highly popular across different price points, and it further “widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. It commanded 32.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012.

Moving over to Finnish brand Nokia, the figures reveal that the company's mobile phone sales declined 21.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012. Its overall sales at 82.3 million were, however, better than Gartner’s early estimate. The numbers were largely driven by good sales of the Asha full touch range. Gartner reveals that Nokia's smartphone sales weren't doing well, riding on which its worldwide position fell to number seven. It sold 7.2 million smartphones in the third quarter. It is now predicted that with the entry of the new Lumia devices running Windows 8, Nokia's market share decline in the fourth quarter of 2012 should come to a halt. Gartner adds that one would have to wait until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia’s position. 

Apple’s sales reached 23.6 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 36.2 percent year-on-year. “We saw inventory built up into the channel as Apple prepared for the coming holiday season, global expansions and the launch into China in the fourth quarter of 2012,” added Gupta. Riding high on the launch of the iPhone 5 in more territories in the fourth quarter of 2012, including China, coupled with the upcoming holiday season, Gartner analysts estimate that Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter. 

As per Gartner's figures, the Android OS continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012. It reveals further that despite RIM losing market share, it claimed the number three position as Symbian is nearing the end of its lifecycle. “There was also channel destocking in preparation of new device launches for RIM, which resulted into 8.9 million sales to end users in the third quarter of 2012. With the launch of iPhone 5, Gartner analysts expect iOS share will grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012 because users held on to their replacements in many markets ahead of the iPhone 5 wider roll out. Windows Phone’s share weakened quarter-on-quarter as the Windows Phone 8 launch dampened demand of Windows Phone 7 devices,” the report added. 

In a nutshell, the Android OS accounted for 72.4 percent of the market share in Q3 2012, followed by iOS at 13.9 percent. 

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