Samsung Galaxy S4 at Sydney launch event. Photo: Adam Turner
Research firm IDC said more smartphones than "dumb" phones are being made this year, a milestone in a shift that's putting computing power and internet access in millions of hands worldwide.
Meanwhile, Samsung grabbed more smartphone market share from archrival Apple in the latest quarter, with sales of its phones jumping to account for one third of the global market.
Manufacturers shipped 216 million smartphones worldwide in the first three months of this year, compared with 189 million regular mobile phones, according to a study IDC released late last week. IDC said smartphones made up 51.6 per cent of the 419 million mobile phones shipped.
The iPhone 5.
In the U.S., smartphones overtook regular mobiles in 2011. IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said that the shift to a global majority of smartphones is now being driven by consumers in developing countries such as China, India and Indonesia.
Another firm, ABI Research, found that smartphones made up 49 per cent of shipments in the first quarter. Samsung, the world's largest phone maker, doesn't provide a breakdown of its phone shipments, and analysts vary in their estimates. Even going by ABI's numbers, it's clear that smartphones will solidly overtake the market this year.
The shift from phones primarily designed for calls, and perhaps texting, to ones with advanced operating systems and touch screens has roiled the mobile phone industry. Finland's Nokia was for many years the world's largest maker of cellphones, but it has failed to translate that into success in smartphones. It's now the second-largest maker of phones overall, behind Samsung, but it falls far down the list of smartphone makers.
Mobile pioneer Motorola Mobility, a U.S. company now owned by Google, has stumbled through the transition as well, while Apple has become the world's third-largest maker of phones, less than six years after launching the first iPhone. Samsung and Apple are the top makers of smartphones. LG Electronics of South Korea; HTC of Taiwan; and ZTE. and Huawei of China jostle for the No. 3 position.
Smartphone market share fight
Samsung grabbed more smartphone market share from archrival Apple in the latest quarter.
Sales of the iPhone 5 helped Apple's volumes grow 6.6 per cent to 37.4 million phones in the quarter from a year earlier, but that was not enough to stop its share of the market dropping to 17.3 per cent from 23 per cent, research firm IDC said.
A flood of cheaper Android-powered devices from the South Korean maker lifted its shipments about 60 percent to 70.7 million, giving it a 32.7 percent of the market, up from 28.8 percent a year earlier.
During the first quarter Samsung shipped more smartphones than the next four vendors combined, IDC said.
The research firm said it was eager to see how new phones from Samsung using its Tizen operating system will look and fit into the company's product line-up.
Of the top five vendors, only Apple lost market share, with LG Electronics Inc, Huawei and ZTE Corp making incremental gains.
AP and Reuters