May 16, 2012

Gartner: Phone Sales Declined 2 Percent In Q1 2012, Dragged Down By Slow Sales In Asia-Pacific


Sign of a maturing marketing flattening out, a lack of compelling devices, or a contraction in the economy? Gartner today released figures that note that worldwide sales of mobile phones were actually down by two percent this quarter, to reach a total of 419.1 million units — the first time the market has declined since the second quarter of 2009, the analysts say.

Gartner’s explanation is a slowdown in demand from Asia-Pacific, because of a lack of compelling new devices getting launched in the period: users are simply holding out until something better comes along. Nevertheless, of the vendors that are doing well, Samsung is riding at the top of the list, with 20.7 percent of all mobile sales globally, and among smartphones, it is the only Android vendor to have more than 10 percent market share.

This will be the quarter that people will remember as the one when Samsung swapped places with Nokia, which has now slipped down to second position with 19.8 percent of all mobile sales to Samsung’s 20.7 percent, equivalent to 86.6 million units. Nokia, Gartner notes, has been in the number-one position since 1998 — and from the looks of its earnings for the last few quarters, it doesn’t appear that Nokia will be regaining the lead any time soon.

(Don’t rule it out yet, though. Nokia just yesterday launched two more low-cost, souped up feature phones that play to the developing markets where it has continued to do alright, despite its market share losses in more advanced countries.)

Overall, Samsung and Apple were the only two vendors in the top 10 mobile rankings to have gained market share: the rest all declined. Together they now represent 49.3 percent of all smartphones sold — a sure sign of the consolidation being that a year ago the pair only accounted for 29.3 percent. Nokia’s smartphone share is down to 9.2 percent, Gartner says.

Gartner says that Samsung also managed to wrest the leading smartphone maker crown from Apple this quarter: it sold 38 million units to Apple’s 33 million.


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