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Smartphones Finally Overtake Feature Phones Globally
Smartphones Finally Overtake Feature Phones Globally

By Seth Fitzgerald
August 15, 2013 1:29PM

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Samsung has been doing well because of its array of smartphones available. While Apple does well in the U.S., it has a hard time competing in countries where the minimum wage is less than half what it is here. Analysts suspect we could see many feature phones become unnecessary over the next couple of years as manufacturers make cheaper smartphones.

Global smartphone sales have risen to the point where they are outselling feature phones for the first time, according to a second-quarter survey by industry research firm Gartner.

Of the 435 million phones sold from April to June, 225 million were smartphones, an increase of 46.5 percent from last year. Feature phones reached only 210 million units in quarter, down 21 percent compared with a year earlier.

Lower Prices, Higher Sales

As smartphone manufacturers begin to drop the price of some of their devices, analysts expect feature phones to slowly disappear. For the same reason, smartphones are already becoming more prevalent with low-cost or older versions of top-tier smartphones entering or already in the market.

Samsung has been doing well because of its array of smartphones available. While Apple does well in the U.S., it has a hard time competing in countries where the minimum wage is less than half of what it is here. Analysts suspect that we could see many feature phones become unnecessary over the next couple of years as more manufacturers make cheaper phones available to people around the world.

It is somewhat surprising that feature phones have been ahead of smartphones for this long considering how few people the average American knows who are not using a smartphone. However, there are countries where smartphones have yet to take hold but where smartphones are beginning to do so with cheaper devices.

The rumored cheaper Apple iPhone 5C could end up being the biggest proponent of cheap smartphones as it will be relatively affordable even without a contract.

Windows Phone Jumps Ahead

Of all the things revealed in the latest Gartner survey, one of the most interesting is that Windows Phone devices have outperformed BlackBerry in the market, moving into third place. Sure, Microsoft's market share among smartphones is small compared with Android or iOS, but it shows how poorly BlackBerry is doing.

Windows Phone devices made up 3.3 percent of all smartphones sold around the world whereas BlackBerry was only able to control 2.7 percent of the market. The difference is minimal but a good indicator of BlackBerry's failures with BB10. One of the major remaining issues for Microsoft in the phone market is its limited app availability,

"While Microsoft has managed to increase share and volume in the quarter, Microsoft should continue to focus on growing interest from app developers to help grow its appeal among users," said Gartner researcher Anshul Gupta.

For customers even in the United States, this is good news. Phones like the iPhone 5 are popular but not always affordable for the average consumer. If devices such as the rumored 4iPhone 5C come out and feature cheaper materials, people can finally afford a more high-end phone.

Tell Us What You Think



Posted: 2013-08-16 @ 4:58am PT
"While Apple does well in the U.S., it has a hard time competing in countries where the minimum wage is less than half of what it is here."

Actually, Asian and Canadian manufacturers are also making more capable high-end products than Apple. That is why those alternative products are selling well everywhere.

Apple is just unwilling to sell a Micro-SDXC slotted, Dual-SIM slotted, removable battery, tool-less removable back cover device. Other manufacturers are, and naturally they are getting the high-end sales.

It is arrogant and misguided for us to make the excuse that Apple isn't selling well because other people don't have the money. The markets outside the US have far more money than we have. We are just unwilling to build the products that sell well overseas -- low-end or high-end.

It's not just Apple. Google Nexus is making the same mistakes.

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