A first: smartphone shipments outnumber feature phones

iPhone 5 Galaxy S4 (Tagscape 001)

For some time, the mobile phone industry has been shifting toward more powerful smartphones and away from basic mobile phones. Now comes word that smartphones outnumber feature phones for the first time. The line was crossed in the first quarter of 2013 with 216.1 million smartphones shipping, accounting for 51.6 percent of all handsets sold. Smartphone shipments grew 41.6 percent during the quarter, up from 152.7 million units shipped during the same period in 2012, one industry research firm announced Thursday…

IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said that “the days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away.”

And as a result of the shifting consumer demand, “the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are more dependent on smartphones,” Restivo adds. Indeed, we recently wrote how app usage is equal to the number of online laptop and desktops.

IDC (Q1 2013, top smartphone vendors)

As if to make the point, Samsung held on to the top spot among smartphone makers, its Galaxy handset helping the South Korean firm ship more units than the next four companies combined, according to IDC.

The firm had 27.6 percent of the mobile phone market, up from 23.3 percent during the first three months of 2012. The 22.9 percent year-over-year gain was fueled by 115 million units shipped during the first quarter, an increase from 93.6 million handsets shipped during the first quarter of 2012.

Here’s Samsung Galaxy S4 television commercial from earlier this morning.


Apple retains its No. 2 spot for global mobile phone makers, the iPhone 5 helping the company register its first single-digit year-over-year growth since the third quarter of 2009, the researcher said.

Apple has held onto the second place position for the previous five quarters. According to IDC, Apple’s smartphone mix is “increasingly diversified as it tries to reach new buyers.”

However, the last time the iPhone maker posted a single-digit year-over-year growth rate was 3Q09. The iPhone maker has held the second spot in the smartphone rankings for the past five quarters

To emphasize the changing guard, Nokia – once a mobile phone titan – continues to shed market share. The company fell to second place in overall mobile phone shipments, dropping to second behind Samsung.

At the end of the first quarter, the Finnish firm had 14.8 percent of the mobile handset market, down from 20.6 percent a year ago. Shipments also fell to 61.9 million, down from 82.7 million during the first quarter of 2012, IDC announced.


LG, which had fallen off the list of the top 5 smartphone makers, has returned in fourth place. The 12.4 percent increase of last year is credited to LG’s L series and Nexus 4.

The momentum has shifted to a number of China-based firms, which has used Google’s Android software to attract smartphone buyers.

Among China’s new players: Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and Lenova, Restivo claimed.