Gartner has this morning published its numbers for how the mobile handset industry has performed in Q3. The topline figure is that the mobile industry overall continues to see pressure from the wider economic downturn, and the gradual move away from cheaper, low end feature devices: overall sales of 428 million units for the quarter are 3% down on the same quarter last year. But smartphones continue to outshine that by quite a lot: they are up by 47% to 169 milion units. In other words, smartphones accounted for about 40% of al mobile device sales in Q3.
Still, that decline of 3% over last year was seen as encouraging by Gartner, since it was still an improvement over Q2, in which 419 million mobile devices were sold.
“After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially,” writes Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. He points out that in China — currently the world’s largest mobile market — smartphones were the biggest driver of sales, with demand for feature devices “weak.” In mature markets, he says that part of the good news story came in the form of new devices, such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.