Smartphones have overtaken feature phones for the first time amid 4 percent year-over-year growth for the global mobile phone market in the first quarter. So says a new report from IDC.
Mobile phone vendors shipped 418.6 million mobile phones in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 402.4 million units in the first quarter of 2012 and 483.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, IDC reports.
Drilling into the smartphone market, vendors shipped 216.2 million units in the first quarter, which marked the first time more than half (51.6 percent) the total phone shipments in a quarter were smartphones. The market grew 41.6 percent compared with the 152.7 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2012, but fell 5.1 percent from the 227.8 million units shipped in the fourth quarter last year.
"Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "As a result, the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are most dependent on smartphones."
Samsung's Knox Impact
According to IDC, Samsung remains the leader in the worldwide smartphone market. By the end of the first quarter, Samsung shipped more units than the next four vendors combined. What remains to be seen, IDC said, is how Samsung's new Tizen-powered smartphones will look and feel later this year, and fit into the company's overall smartphone portfolio.
But Knox could be an Achilles heel, at least in the short-term for Samsung on the front. Knox is Samsung's enterprise mobile solution for work and play. Knox aims to address the mobile security needs of enterprise IT without invading the privacy of its employees by creating two distinct containers on the phone: one for business and one for pleasure.
"We know that the new Knox operating system has some problems. When the Galaxy S IVs come out they are probably not going to have Knox," said Michael Disabato, managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner. "Knox is also a secure version of Android that was developed in conjunction with NSA.
"So now you have a version of Android that's enterprise ready, but it's not ready. That's going to annoy some people in the enterprise that have been waiting for this."
Apple Still Swinging
Apple's smartphone shipment volume hit a new first-quarter high, with volume growing 6.6 percent year over year. However, the last time the iPhone maker posted a single-digit year-over-year growth rate was the third quarter of 2009. The iPhone maker has held the second spot in the smartphone rankings for the past five quarters. Apple's mix of models shipped to market is increasingly diversified as it tries to reach new buyers.
LG returned to the smartphone top five after a two-quarter absence, reaching record-high shipments in the process. Its smartphone volume for the quarter was driven in large part by its 3G smartphone portfolio, IDC noted, namely the L series and the Nexus 4.
Huawei has shown significant improvement from where it was a year ago, when it offered a handful of Ascend smartphones and had more limited presence outside the Asia/Pacific region. ZTE's first-quarter performance continued the trends established last year, with a strong showing in Asia/Pacific and North America.
"A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry (then Research In Motion), and HTC among the top five," said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, noting the major trend toward Chinese companies emerging among the leading smartphone vendors.
"While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones."