Mobile

Smartphones finally beat feature phone sales globally, says Gartner

It’s been about two years since Nielsen noted that smartphone sales overtook feature phone sales in the U.S. — now, it seems we’ve hit that milestone on the global level.

Smartphone sales to consumers worldwide during the second quarter grew 46.5 percent to reach 225 million, while feature phone sales fell 21 percent from last year to hit 210 million units, according to the latest figures from the research firm Gartner. Overall, smartphone sales accounted for 51.8 percent of all mobile phone sales in the quarter.

The news is a clear sign that the smartphone revolution has extended beyond the U.S., Western Europe, and technology-heavy Asian countries. Gartner notes that smartphone growth was highest in Asia/Pacific (up 74.1 percent), Latina America (up 55.7 percent), and Eastern Europe (up 31.6), on top of continued growth in other regions. It all comes down to smartphones getting cheaper across the board, not to mention that the amount of feature phone options are dwindling in many countries.

Feature phone sales are likely still centered in developing countries, where battery life is precious and cellular networks are measured by their reliability, not just their raw speed. It’ll be really interesting to see how low-end smartphone options, like Nokia’s Asha line and Samsung’s Bada phones, are adopted in developing markets.

Gartner also confirmed the trend other research firms are seeing: Android continues to climb in marketshare, while iOS continues to fall. Android now accounts for 79 percent of the global smartphone market (up from 64.2 percent last year), while Apple has fallen around 4 points to reach 14.2 percent.

Similarly, in terms of hardware manufacturers, Samsung remained the leader as its market share rose slightly from 29.7 percent to 31.7 percent. Apple still holds the No. 2 position, but its market share also fell 4 points to hit 14.2 percent.


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