Mobile Computing | Research

Smart Phone Growth Accelerates Worldwide

The worldwide smart phone market hit a new high in the second quarter of 2013 as manufacturers shipped one new unit for every 30 human beings in the world over the course of three months, according to a new report form market research firm IDC.

For the three-month period ended June 30, worldwide smart phone unit shipments reached 237.9 million, up a staggering 52.3 percent from the same period in 2012, IDC reported.

That growth outpaced the overall mobile phone market (which includes both smart phones and feature phones). Overall mobile phone growth was 6 percent compared with the same period last year, reaching 432.1 million units — or about one for every 16 human beings in the world. Smart phones made up a solid majority (55 percent) of overall mobile phone unit shipments.

"The smartphone market is still a rising tide that's lifting many ships," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a prepared statement. "Though Samsung and Apple are the dominant players, the market is as fragmented as ever. There is ample opportunity for smartphone vendors with differentiated offerings."

The top-5 manufacturers accounted for nearly 58 percent of all smart phone shipments.

Samsung continued to dominate the field. The company's smart phone shipments grew 43.9 percent year over year, reaching 72.4 million units, more than double its next-nearest competitor, Apple.

"Samsung, on the heels of its Galaxy S4 launch during the quarter, saw its volumes reach new levels and accounted for nearly a third of the entire smartphone market," according to IDC. "Not to be overlooked is the continued success of its Galaxy S III smartphones, which saw renewed interest following discounted prices in advance of the Galaxy S4 launch. By the end of the quarter, Samsung more than doubled the total volumes of the next largest vendor, and shipped more units than the next four vendors combined."

Samsung's market share declined nearly 2 percent, however, as rivals experienced even greater growth. Samsung's share of the smart phone market was 30.4 percent in the second quarter.

No. 2 Apple also saw unit shipments climb 20 percent in 2Q 2013 compared with 2Q 2012, reaching 31.2 million units. Its worldwide market share, however, dropped 3.5 percentage points, ending at 13.1 percent.

"Apple posted its second-lowest year-over-year iPhone growth rate in almost four years as some buyers presumably held off on iPhone purchases in advance of an expected next-generation device launch this fall," IDC reported. "Nonetheless, the 31.2 million iPhones Apple shipped last quarter was impressive as its flagship iPhone 5 model, which has been in the market for three quarters, was faced with additional global competition in the form of Samsung's Galaxy S4 and HTC's critically-acclaimed One models. Apple's growth is likely to accelerate globally assuming it launches a lower-cost iPhone and continues to penetrate prepaid markets in the quarters to come."

LG, in the third slot, grew 108.6 percent, reaching 12.1 million units.

Lenovo reached the fourth spot in the second quarter on shipments of 11.3 million units, up 130.6 percent from the same quarter last year. Lenovo had been out of the top 5 in the previous two quarters.

Rounding out the top 5 was ZTE, whose shipments grew 57.8 percent, hitting 10.1 million units.

All other manufacturers combined shipped 100.8 million units, up 60.5 percent from 2Q 2012.

According to Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team: "While Samsung and Apple accounted for significant share of the overall market, they were not the only vendors active in the high end of the market, and recent device introductions and upcoming launches signal more vendors targeting this space. Comparisons will certainly be made to the flagship Galaxy and iPhone models, but clearly the competition refuses to be shut out altogether. The opposite end of the spectrum is just as, if not more, interesting. Lower-priced smartphones continue to gain traction, but the key for vendors will be to keep prices low while still offering premium devices and services. We fully expect to see large-screen smartphones and other flagship devices establish a presence within the lower-priced smartphone segment as well."

Additional details can be found in the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker on IDC's site.

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