Smartphones outsell feature phones for the first time

For the first time, smartphones have outsold more basic ‘feature’ phones worldwide, with demand for high-tech devices rising significantly in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

According to data published by research firm Gartner on Wednesday, 435 million handsets were sold in the second quarter of 2013. Smartphones accounted for 225 million, or 51.8%, of those purchased, which is the first time they have outsold feature phones.

Phones are increasingly replacing laptop and desktop computers around the world as a means to access the internet. Sales of smartphones increased 74% compared to the same period in 2012 in the Asia Pacific, by 56% in Latin America, and by 32% in eastern Europe.

Samsung were the top selling manufacturer, selling over 71 million internet-enabled handsets in the period, increasing market share from 30% to nearly 32%. Apple sales increased by 3 million to 32 million handsets sold, but their relative market share fell from 19% to 14%.

In third place were South Korean LG Electronics, followed by Lenovo, a Chinese manufacturer best known for making  personal computers, who more than doubled their unit sales from 4 million to nearly 11 million.

The popular Xperia range from Sony has helped nudge their market share in both smart and feature type phones up to 2.2% from 1.7%, just behind Huawei with a market share of 2.6%. Nokia remained as the second largest manufacturer globally, but market share slightly dropped to 14%, behind Samsung’s 25%.

In terms of operating systems, BlackBerry has been overtaken by Microsoft for the first time, largely attributable to improved Nokia Lumia sales, running the Windows Phone software. Microsoft’s market share edged up to 3.3% from 2.6%, and 7.4m handsets were sold, compared to 4m in the same period last year.

The popularity of Nokia handsets has also been helped by the budget end of the Nokia Lumia range, bringing better screens and cameras to lower priced handsets such as the Lumia 520 and 720. At the other end of the scale, the high-profile relaunch of BlackBerry has failed to halt the decline of the company. Market share fell from 5.2% to 2.7%, with sales at just 6 million from 8 million previously.

It has been forecast by Gartner that 1.82bn mobile phones will be sold this year.

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