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Market researchers at IDC say the mobile phone industry has reached a notable milestone: for the first time ever, worldwide sales of smartphones outpaced sales of feature phones. The global mobile phone market grew by 4 percent, and Samsung remains the leading mobile phone manufacturer.
CNET's Jonathan Skillings reported, "It seemed inevitable, and now it has happened: for the first time ever, feature phones have taken a backseat to smartphones in terms of quantities shipped. In the first quarter of 2013, device makers shipped 216.2 million smartphones worldwide, a volume that accounted for 51.6 percent of total global shipments and that marked the first time smartphones have claimed more than half of all quarterly shipments, according to market researcher IDC."
The Los Angeles Times quoted IDC's Kevin Restivo, who said, "Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away. As a result, the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are most dependent on smartphones."
InformationWeek's Eric Zeman noted, "Samsung shipped more smartphones -- 70.7 million devices -- than any other vendor during the first quarter. It increased shipments by 60.7% percent compared to the year-ago period, and grabbed 32.7% of the smartphone market. Samsung was also the world's largest supplier of all mobile phones, with shipments climbing 22.9% from 93.6 million last year to 115 million during the first quarter. Samsung commands 27.5% of the entire mobile phone market. When it comes to smartphones, Apple ranks a distant second to Samsung. The company shipped 37.4 million iPhones during the first quarter, giving it 17.3% of the smartphone market. Apple improved shipments only 6.6% year-over-year, and actually lost market share. Apple held 23% of the smartphone market during the first quarter of 2012. LG, Huawei and ZTE round out the top five smartphone makers during the first quarter, with shipments of 10.3 million, 9.9 million and 9.1 million, respectively."
In a company press release, IDC's Ramon Llamas added, "In addition to smartphones displacing feature phones, the other major trend in the industry is the emergence of Chinese companies among the leading smartphone vendors. A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry (then Research In Motion), and HTC among the top five. While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones."