Worldwide mobile phone sales cool, Gartner says

Smartphones remain a bright spot for the industry, however, with sales reaching nearly 208 million in the fourth quarter.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 13, 2013 5:16PM
Woman sitting on steps with smartphone -- Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesDemand for mobile phones is cooling as markets start to mature.

Market researcher Gartner estimates that cellphone sales fell 1.7% to 1.75 billion units in 2012, the first decline since 2009. They may rebound to about 1.9 billion in 2013 as the global economy continues to recover.

Demand for smartphones is still strong, however, with sales of these phones reaching nearly 208 million units during the fourth quarter, a gain of 38.3%.

Samsung, Apple (AAPL) and other smartphone makers may find more growth opportunities in emerging markets.

"Smartphone penetration varies greatly, especially in emerging markets like India with 10% and China at 43%," writes Anshul Gupta, a Gartner analyst, in an email to MSN Money. He added that the rise in the popularity of tablets isn't significantly affecting smartphone sales. "In mature markets, penetration is well over 70% in most markets."

Google's (GOOG) free Android operating system held 69.7% of the worldwide smartphone market at the end of the fourth quarter. Apple's iOS was in second place with 20.9%. Third place is currently held by BlackBerry (BBRY), though its 3.5% share is hardly secure.

Samsung, based in South Korea, controls about 42.5% of the global Android market, according to Gartner. It's facing stiff competition in 2013 as rivals such as Sony (SNE) and Nokia (NOK) continue to improve. Apple is having trouble persuading consumers to buy the more expensive iPhone 5 since cheaper options such as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are abundant and reasonably priced.

My iPhone 4 recently met a watery end after I forgot to take it out of a pair of jeans before starting the washing machine. Though I am a huge Apple fan, I decided that my new iPhone would be a 4S priced at $99 instead of the new $199 iPhone 5. I was due for an upgrade under my AT&T (T) plan. The cheaper phone was good enough for my very modest needs.  Besides, my wife would have killed me if I had purchased the top-of-the-line iPhone given how my last phone, and the one before that, met their premature ends.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Feb 14, 2013 7:45PM
there is no difference between the old crank phone and a cell phone... you always have the option to answer.
Feb 13, 2013 6:40PM

Cell phones are only good for extreme emergencies, catching on film, corrupt police beating up on innocent citizens and exposing on film, crooked and corrupt Republicans, Libertarians and Teabaggers engaging in their endless shady, dishonest and unlawful deals and practices.


Other than that, they are pretty useless pieces of junk.


P.S. RIP Christopher Dorner! I wish you could have taken out every last corrupt and racist POS scum that was on your list.


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