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By 2 February 2012 | Categories: news

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Following the release of Strategy Analytics’ latest research and figures surrounding smartphone and mobile phone shipments, market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has announced its analysis of the mobile market for the period of Q4 2011.

According to the IDC, the global mobile phone market grew by 6.1% year-on-year during Q4 2011. The company stated that the feature phone market has declined faster than anticipated, dragging market growth down to its lowest point in more than two years.

Vendors managed to ship 427.4 million units during Q4 2011, compared to the 402.8 million units for the same period in 2010. The 6.1% year-over-year growth was higher than the figure that the IDC forecasted (4.4%) for this quarter, but weaker than the 9.3% growth of the industry during the previous quarter.

Competitors knock on Nokia’s no.1-in-sales door

Like the Strategy Analytics report also confirmed, Nokia finished the year as the undisputed leader of mobile phone shipments. The IDC noted that Nokia has changed its strategy on Symbian, as fewer Symbian-running mobile devices will be sold this year. It stated that Nokia’s broad distribution around the world and manufacturing capabilities will make it a serious contender to maintain its leadership position.

The Espoo-based company officially launched its first Windows Phone-powered Lumia smartphones and its Asha range of smartphone-like feature phones.

Korean giant climbs to new sales heights

Second placed Samsung managed to reach new record levels for the quarter and year, according to the IDC. The Korean tech giant surpassed the 90 million unit mark for the first time in a single quarter and went on to break the 300 million mark for the first time within a single year.

The IDC said that the company’s growing smartphone volumes was leading the charge for Samsung, boosted by the release of numerous high-end devices the likes of the Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Nexus, mass market offerings such as the Galaxy Ace and Galaxy Gio, as well as its new Windows Phone OS-based smartphones including the Omnia W. All of these smartphones along with the company’s increased feature phone volumes, helped push Samsung closer to market leader Nokia, with less than 20 million units separating the two giants during Q4 2011.

Apple takes bigger bite out of mobile sales

Apple pushed past LG and ZTE to claim third spot globally, landing two places higher than it was during the last quarter due to record-breaking quarterly shipments. According to the IDC, the highly anticipated launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S smartphone was the primary reason for the Cupertino-based company’s strong performance.

LG’s total volumes decreased for the third consecutive quarter and the IDC stated that the company’s sales levels haven’t been this low since Q2 2007. This poor performance is ascribed to a combination of declining interest of buyers for aging feature phones, as well as stalling smartphone sales for the company. For this year, the IDC predicts that LG will launch more smartphones, especially LTE (4G) supporting models, as its Optimus LTE series did well across the markets where these were launched in 2011.

“The mobile phone market exhibited unusually low growth last quarter, which shows it is not immune to weaker macroeconomic conditions worldwide,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker division.

“The introduction of high-growth products such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth. Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since 3Q 09 when the global economic recession was in full bloom.”

Smartphones are the future

According to the IDC, smartphones continue to be popular device choices for users, whilst feature phones still comprise the majority of all mobile phone shipments.

“Feature phones accounted for a majority of shipments from four of the five market leaders during the quarter," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. “Even though their proportion is eroding, feature phones maintain their appeal on the basis of price and ease of use.”
 
“At the same time, feature phones are fighting to maintain their market share,” added Llamas. “To meet the challenge, feature phones are becoming more like smartphones, incorporating mobile internet and third-party applications. While this may not stem the smartphone tide, it should slow down the rate at which smartphones are selected over feature phones.”

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