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Mobile phone sales down from third quarter of 2011

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel says Gartner

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users declined by 3.1 percent from the third quarter of 2011, Gartner has said.

Sales hit 428 million units in this quarter. Of this smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of the total, showing a increase of 46.9 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

However, the analyst house pointed out that although the mobile phone market declined year-on-year, there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter.

It said it was seeing that demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased.

In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets  replacement sales picked up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.

Smartphones continued to fuel sales of mobile phones worldwide with sales rising to 169.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012. The smartphone market was dominated by Apple and Samsung, which  controlled 46.5 percent of the smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot, the company added.

Nokia slipped from third place in the second quarter of 2012 toseventh in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012. RIM moved to the third spot with HTC not far behind in fourth place.

While seasonality in the fourth quarter of 2012 will help end-of-year mobile phone sales to end users, Gartner analysts said that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season. It said this was because consumers were either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents.

Samsung’s mobile phones sales continued to accelerate, totalling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012 up 18.6 percent year-on-year. Samsung saw strong demand for Galaxy smartphones across different price points, and it further widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. It commanded 32.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012.

Nokia’s mobile phone sales declined 21.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012, but overall sales at 82.3 million were better than Gartner’s early estimate, largely driven by increased sales of the Asha full touch range.

The arrival of the new Lumia devices on Windows 8 is however predicted to help halt the decline in share in the fourth quarter of 2012, although it won’t be until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia’s position.

Apple’s sales to end users totalled 23.6 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 36.2 percent year-on-year.  With the  iPhone 5 launching in more territories in the fourth quarter of 2012, including China, and the upcoming holiday season Gartner analysts expect Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter.

In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012.

Gartner analysts expect iOS share will also grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012 because users held on to their replacements in many markets ahead of the iPhone 5 wider roll out. Windows Phone’s share weakened year-on-year as the Windows Phone 8 launch dampened demand of Windows Phone 7 devices.

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