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Smartphone Shipments Surge While Feature Phone Sales Decline

Global smartphone shipments grew just more than 20 percent to reach 301 million units in the third quarter of 2014 despite no growth in the mobile phone market overall, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner.

Smartphones accounted for 66 percent of mobile phone shipments for the period, and Gartner predicted that share would rise to about 90 percent by 2018.

"Sales of feature phones declined 25 percent in the third quarter of 2014 because the difference in price between feature phones and low-cost Android smartphones is reducing further," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

Driven largely by the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the United States led growth among mature markets with an 18.9 percent increase for the quarter. Western Europe, by contrast, saw a 5.2 percent decline, the third consecutive drop in the region.

Samsung led smartphone sales with 73.2 million shipments and a 24.4 percent market share, nearly twice what their nearest competitor captured. Though still the leader, Samsung's share has declined more than 8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013, when the company's devices accounted for nearly a third of all smartphones sold at 32.1 percent.

Apple's 38.2 million shipments was good for a 12.7 percent share and second place. That's an improvement over the company's 12.1 percent share for the same quarter last year, when it sold 30.3 million units.

"Sales of iPhones grew 26 percent in the third quarter of 2014," according to a news release. "With the introduction of two large-screen phones for the first time, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple managed to neutralize the advantage of Android competitors. Gartner expects Apple to experience its biggest ever fourth-quarter sales, with both of its large-screen phones seeing demand exceed supply since their launch."

The third, fourth and fifth place vendors all claimed a market share less than half Apple's, ranging from 5 to 5.3 percent of all devices sold. They were, in order, Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo. All Chinese, the vendors collectively improved their market share 4.1 percent.

Huawei, at 5.3 percent, and Xiaomi, at 5.2 percent, were neck and neck for the quarter, with a difference of only about 130,000 units sold between them. Huawei grew its market share .6 percent as compared to the third quarter of 2013, and Xiaomi more than tripled its share of 1.5 percent for the same period last year.

Lenovo's 5 percent share represents a drop of .2 percent for the third quarter of last year and a fall from third to fifth place.

"With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too and address the needs of upgrade users that aspire to premium phones, but cannot afford Apple or Samsung high-end products," said Cozza, in a prepared statement.

Among smartphone operating systems, Android saw 22 percent growth in shipments, increasing its already dominant market share to just more than 83 percent.

Apple's iOS increased its market share from 12.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 12.7 percent in the most recent quarter, holding on to the second spot on the way.

Windows and Blackberry, in third and fourth place, respectively, both saw declines in market share. Windows dropped from 3.6 percent to an even 3, and Blackberry dropped from 1.8 to .8 percent.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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