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A new report from market research firm Gartner indicates that mobile phone sales actually declined 1.7 percent in 2012. However, smartphone sales continue to be strong, particularly for market leaders Apple and Samsung.
In its press release, Gartner wrote, "Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 1.75 billion units in 2012, a 1.7 percent decline from 2011 sales, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphones continued to drive overall mobile phone sales, and the fourth quarter of 2012 saw record smartphone sales of 207.7 million units, up 38.3 percent from the same period last year. 'The last time the worldwide mobile phone market declined was in 2009,' said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. 'Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year.'"
CNET's Charlie Osborne added, "The research firm expects worldwide sales of smartphones to dominate the overall market in 2013 -- reaching close to 1 billion units -- whereas total mobile phone sales are predicted to touch 1.9 billion units this year. Feature phone sales are expected to keep sliding."
Reuters observed, "Samsung and Apple continued to dominate the market, with the Korean company selling 385 million phones in 2012, of which 53.5 percent were smartphones, with Apple selling 130 million smartphones. In the fourth quarter alone, Apple and Samsung accounted for 52 percent of smartphone sales, up from 46 percent in the third quarter."
The Guardian's Charles Arthur noted, "Smartphones will make up more than half of all mobile phones shipped worldwide by the end of March, new figures from the research company Gartner suggest. Data from the fourth quarter of 2012 show that smartphone shipments hit a record high of 44% of the overall mobile phone market of 472m. With smartphone numbers growing by almost 40% year-on-year every quarter, while shipments of 'featurephones' drop by around 20% in the same period, that would put smartphones substantially ahead of featurephone shipments - at 286m against 211m - during the first quarter of 2013."