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Smartphones, for the first time, have overpowered the feature phone market in terms of sales in 2013. According to Gartner’s latest report, 968 million smartphone device units were sold to end users in 2013 out of a total of 1.8 billion mobiles sold, bringing up the overall global mobile device total up by 3.5 percent on 2012’s figure.

The report highlighted that the increasing contribution of smartphones was led by growth in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia/Pacific and Eastern Europe, where smartphone sales grew by more than 50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. The smartphone sales in India increased by 166.8 percent making it the world’s fastest growing smartphone market in the last quarter of 2013. Latin America saw the strongest growth among all regions (96.1 percent) in the fourth quarter while China contributed significantly as smartphone sales grew by 86.3 percent in 2013.

The report also focused on data points like worldwide smartphone sales to users by vendors and operating systems.

Samsung leads the race followed by Apple in vendors for 2013

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled 1.8 billion units in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2012. Users bought 490.3 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 3.9 percent compared with the same quarter in 2012.

Smartphones which left behind feature phones for the first time grew 36 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and accounted for 57.6 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter, up from 44 percent year over year. The increasing contribution was led by the emerging markets as the sales fell in mature markets due to weaker demand for Q4 2013.

“The matured markets are saturated with smartphone sales, leaving little room for growth with declining feature phone market and a longer replacement cycle,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Samsung which dominated the market share with 31 percent in 2013 slightly fell by 1.6 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2013. This was mainly due to a saturated high-end smartphone market in developed regions.

Gartner_Smartphone_vendor_2013

Apple’s strong sales of the iPhone 5s and strong demand of the 4s in emerging markets didn’t help in the decline of the brand’s smartphone share, both in the fourth quarter of 2013 and in 2013. According to Gupta, the latest deals by Apple with China Mobile during the quarter should boost the numbers.

Android beats iOS in operating system in 2013

In the smartphone OS market, Android’s share grew 12 percentage points to reach 78.4 percent in 2013. The Android platform will continue to benefit from this, with sales of Android phones in 2014 approaching the billion mark. iOS which holds the second spot saw a dip of 3.5% market share and Blackberry witnessed 3% dip in market share in 2013.

Gartners_smatphone_report_2013

Gartner said it expects smartphones to continue to drive overall sales in 2014 with Android dominating the market. However Gupta added that even though the top three mobile manufacturers are dominating the global mobile phone market, their share collectively fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 and yearly, as Chinese and regional brands continue to raise their share.

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights.

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