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October 29, 2012

World Smartphone Market Grows, Apple and Samsung Dominate

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

So is the world’s appetite for smartphones satiated yet?

No, according to new research. The worldwide market for mobile phones grew 1 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2012, according to analyst group International Data Corporation (IDC).

It’s also good news for Samsung and Apple (News - Alert), who together shipped almost half of the world's smartphones. In fact, those two companies have more than doubled their combined market share over the past two years, which has created more distance between the companies and the competition (Ironic for two companies that are currently mortal patent infringement enemies).

IDC’s (News - Alert) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker found that vendors shipped 406.0 million units in 2Q12 compared to 401.8 million units in the second quarter of 2011.

Samsung (News - Alert) and Apple have quickly become the global smartphone heavyweights though both employ somewhat different approaches to the market," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone (News - Alert) Tracker. "Samsung employs a 'shotgun' strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high-profile models. While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains.”  

The research did find, however, that market share gains will be harder to generate if the worldwide smartphone market grows at rates similar to the 42.1 percent year-over-year rate at which the market increased in Q2 2012. This was the lowest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2009. Vendors shipped 153.9 million smartphones in 2Q12 compared to 108.3 million units in 2Q11.

The 42.1-percent year-over-year growth was 1 percentage point lower than IDC's forecast of 43.1 percent for the quarter.

Nonetheless, IDC expects long-term mobile phone and smartphone shipment demand to grow steadily in 2012 and through the years ahead.

Edited by Braden Becker
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