updated 12:05 am EST, Fri January 25, 2013
700M sold; smartphone growth high, feature phones fading
Once again, Apple and Samsung dominated the entire smartphone industry, selling just over half of the 700 million units sold in 2012 and pocketing all of the industry's profits. Samsung beat Apple in terms of shipped smartphones, with 30 percent share representing 213 million units. Apple had 19 percent of the market with 135.8 million units, but unlike other companies Apple confirms that this number reflects units sold to customers, not just shipped to retailers.
Overall, the smartphone market grew by nearly 500 million units, but the growth rate year-over-year slowed to 43 percent compared to 2011's 64 percent. A report by Strategy Analytics says that the smartphone market is in mid-cycle and saturated in North America and western Europe presently, leaving smaller, less-developed markets elsewhere to pick up the slack.
Samsung broke the record for worldwide shipping units in 2012, more than doubling the previous record of 100 million units shipped in 2010 by Nokia. Though Apple came in second place in units sold, it did see a 46 percent increase in shipments over 2011, and has also seen strong demand for its iPhone line in North America and China -- running contrary to others' growth rates in those regions. Nokia held on to the number-three spot but dropped in market share from 16 percent to five percent in 2012.
The growth in the smartphone sector helped stave off a decline in the overall mobile phone market, which includes "feature phones" along with smartphones. For the industry as a whole, growth was limited to two percent, with the 1.6 billion units shipped in 2012 only a tiny increase from the previous year. The move by most consumers to smartphones was seen as one of the main shifts that hurt the feature-phone market over the past year.