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Asia/Pacific saves ailing mobile phone sales

Posted: 16 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile phone? market analysis? smartphone?

The weak mobile phone market barely increased sales in the first quarter for 2013. Global mobile phone sales were around 426 million units for the first three months of the year, up just 0.7 per cent from the same period last year, according to technology research firm Gartner Inc. The total worldwide smartphone sales posted was 210 million units, up 42 per cent from the same quarter last year.

Around half of the global mobile phone sales came from the Asia/Pacific region. "More than 226 million mobile phones were sold to end users in Asia/Pacific in the first quarter of 2013, which helped the region increase its share of global mobile phones to 53.1 per cent year-on-year," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. The Asia/Pacific region was the only region to show growth in mobile phone sales this quarter, with a 6.4 per cent increase year-on-year.

"In addition, China saw its mobile phone sales increase 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, and its sales represented 25.7 per cent of global mobile phone sales, up nearly 2 percentage points year-on-year," Gupta added. "The Chinese and local manufacturers have been exemplary at addressing the demands of buyers by offering affordable devices with optimum features such as 2.5G (EDGE) instead of 3G in a smartphone. In the smartphone market, local and Chinese manufacturers are making faster inroads as they account for 29 per cent share in the first quarter of 2013, up from 13.2 per cent a year ago," he said.

In 1Q2013, sales of mobile phones in the EMEA region declined 3.6 per cent. The North America and Latin America's mobile phone market fell 9.5 and 3.8 per cent, respectively, while Japan saw its mobile phone sales drop 7.3 per cent.

A look into mobile phone vendors
Samsung remained in the No. 1 position, growing 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 (see Table 1). Its share of smartphones reached 30.8 per cent, up 3.2 percentage points from the first quarter of 2012 (see Table 2). "We expect the new Galaxy S4 to be very popular despite being more of an evolution than a truly revolutionary device compared to the S3," said Gupta.

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Table 1: Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users by vendor in 1Q13 (thousands of units)
Source: Gartner, May 2013

Its mobile phone share dropped 4.9 percentage points in 1Q13 mainly due to a steep decline in feature phone sales. Although Nokia's Windows Phone sales have sequentially improved reaching a volume of 5.1 million units, Nokia is yet to see high growth in the smartphone segment. Nokia's position in the smartphone market dropped to No. 10 in the first quarter of 2013, from No. 8 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Sales to end users reached 38.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 as Apple was able to burn some of the inventory built at the end of 2012 as iPhone 5 was rolling out in more markets, and as the company prepared for Chinese New Year. China is a key contributor to overall sales for Apple, and Gartner analysts saw evidence of this in the first quarter of 2013, when sales reached close to 7 million units in mainland China alone thanks to the lower price of the iPhone 4. "Apple is faced with the challenge of being increasingly dependent on the replacement market as its addressable market is capped. The next two quarters will also be challenging, as there are no new products are expected to be coming before the third quarter of 2013," Gupta noted.

LG electronics moved in front of ZTE in the first quarter of 2013 for the No. 4 position. ZTE had a weak performance, failing to grow its smartphone sales, selling 7.9 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, a 5.1 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2012.

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