According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the fourth quarter of 2012 was a strong one for mobile phone sales, with 482.5 million mobile phones sold. This compared to 473.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 or 1.9% year on year growth.
In the smartphone segment, 219.4 million units or 45.5% of all mobile phone shipments. This was the highest percentage ever attained and underlines the inexorable shift in the mobile market towards smartphones. In fact, smartphone sales grew 36.4% compared with 2011.
Over the full year, mobile phone sales grew 1.2% to over 1.7 billion units, of which 712.6 million were smartphones.
Samsung and Apple dominated the market with shares of 29% and 22% as shown in the chart below. They were followed by Huawei with almost 5% and then SOny an ZTE. HTCfell out of the top 5 even as Huawei entered it. Disappointingly for Microsoft, Nokia was nowhere to be seen in the top 5, although hopes are high for a resurgence in 2013.
|Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q4 2012 (Units in Millions)
||4Q12 Unit Shipments
||4Q12 Market Share
||4Q11 Unit Shipments
||4Q11 Market Share
Samsung’s major weapon was the Galaxy S3 and to a lesser extent, the Galaxy Note 2, but Samsung plans to release phones based on Tizen – their own OS in 2013.
Android of course, was the big winner, with all major vendors, save Apple and Nokia selling Android-based smartphones. The silver lining in the IDC report is that Samsung now sells two Windows Phone 8 phones, namely the Odyssey and Focus. Nokia still leads the charge with the top selling Lumia 920 and HTC has the well-regarded HTC Windows Phone 8X.
However, 2013 will be a pivotal year for Microsoft – a year that decides whether Windows Phone 8 smartphones can make a dent in the highly competitive smartphone market. If they cannot, there will be little hope for a Plan B.
Share your thoughts on the shape of the smartphone market and Microsoft’s prospects below.