Global smartphone sales exploded in 2012: Surveys

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Global smartphone sales soared in 2012, taking a huge slice of a mobile market that was otherwise flat, survey data showed today.

Research firm Strategy Analytics said global smartphone shipments grew 43 per cent to 700 million units in 2012, with South Korea's Samsung capturing more than 30 per cent of the market and extending its lead over Apple and others.

The report showed smartphones accounted for close to half of the 1.6 billion mobiles sold in 2012. With all phones combined, the market grew just two per cent, according to the report highlighting a shift to smartphones.

The report showed Apple holding 19.4 per cent of the global smartphone market, trailing Samsung at 30.4 per cent.

"Samsung and Apple together accounted for half of all smartphones shipped worldwide in 2012," said Linda Sui at Strategy Analytics.

"Large marketing budgets, extensive distribution channels and attractive product portfolios have enabled Samsung and Apple to tighten their grip on the smartphone industry." The survey showed Nokia retained its position as the third largest smartphone vendor for 2012 but that its market share fell sharply from 16 per cent to five per cent.

ABI Research said in a separate report that 653 million smartphones were shipped during the year, more than 40 per cent of the 1.6 billion handsets.

That survey showed Samsung with 31 per cent of total smartphone shipments to 21 per cent for Apple. But ABI said Apple appears to be facing tougher competition.

"It is clear that the iPhone's hyper growth has ended, and ABI Research believes that Apple's market share will peak in 2013 at 22 per cent," said analyst Michael Morgan.

"Unless Apple is willing to trade iPhone margins for low cost iPhone shipments, Apple's handset market share will become dependent on customer loyalty."

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