Android buries the competition in Q1 smartphone sales
Worldwide mobile phone sales reached 419.1 million units in the first quarter of 2012, a 2 percent drop compared to year-ago figures and the first handset sales decline since the second quarter of 2009, according to research firm Gartner.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, credited the slide to slowing customer demand in the Asia-Pacific market. "The first quarter, traditionally the strongest quarter for Asia--which is driven by Chinese New Year--saw a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year," Gupta said.
Smartphone sales continue to drive the mobile market's momentum, exceeding 144.4 million units in the first quarter of 2012, a 44.7 percent year-over-year increase. Samsung sold 86.6 million units during the quarter, including 38 million smartphones, to claim the worldwide sales lead over Nokia (NYSE:NOK) at 83.1 million, a 22.7 percent decline over the first quarter of 2011.
Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system powers 56.1 percent of all smartphones sold in the first quarter and now represents 36.4 percent of the worldwide smartphone market. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS fuels 22.9 percent of first-quarter smartphone sales and accounts for 16.9 percent of the global market. Symbian remains in second place overall with 27.7 percent international market share, but fuels only 8.6 percent of all smartphones sold during the first three months of 2012.
Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) also continued its sharp decline, selling just 9.9 million BlackBerry phones in the first quarter and falling to 13 percent global smartphone market share. The manufacturer is expected to release its overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system later this year. "RIM desperately needs to deliver winning BB10 products to retain users and stay competitive," Gupta said. "This will be very challenging, because BB10 lacks strong developer support, and a new BB10 device will only be available in the fourth quarter of 2012."
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) continues to struggle as well. It sold just 2.7 million Windows Phone devices in the first quarter and controls just 2.6 of the worldwide smartphone market.
Based on overall first quarter sales metrics, Gartner expressed caution over the remainder of 2012. "The continued rollout of third generation-based smartphones by local and regional manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, Yulong and TCL Communication should help spur demand in China," said Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In addition, the arrival of new products in mature markets based on new versions of the Android and Windows Phone operating systems, and the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 will help drive a stronger second half in Western Europe and North America. However, as we are starting to update our market forecast we feel a downward adjustment to our 2012 figures, in the range of 20 million units, is unavoidable."
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