Thu, May 17, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Mobile phone sales fall on Asian market decline

PHONEY WAR:Smartphones are taking the lead as the high-tech handsets continue their stellar rise, with brands such as Nokia left behind in the market race

BY Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

The global mobile phone market fell 2 percent year-on-year to 419.1 million units in the first quarter of this year, with Samsung Electronics Co leading the market with shipments of 86.57 million units, according to the latest Gartner Inc report, released yesterday.

Taiwan’s HTC Corp (宏達電), however, saw its global market share fall to 1.8 percent in the first quarter to rank 10th largest in the world, with shipments of 7.7 million phones. A year ago, it ranked the 7th largest with a market share of 2.2 percent, the research firm said.

The 2-percent sales decline in the first quarter, traditionally the strongest quarter in Asia driven by Lunar New Year buying sprees, represented the first fall since the second quarter of 2009, according to the report.

“Global sales of mobile devices declined more than expected due to a slowdown in demand from the Asia-Pacific region,” Anshul Gupta, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

Gupta said that the first-quarter result reflected a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, adding that it was also an indication that “users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year.”

Annette Zimmermann, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said the first-quarter data were yet another sign of a cautious outlook for the remainder of the year, despite the anticipated launches of new products powered either by Google Inc’s Android, Microsoft Corp’s Windows Phone operating system or Apple’s iOS platform.

“As we are starting to update our market forecast, we feel a downward adjustment to our 2012 figures, in the range of 20 million units, is unavoidable,” Zimmermann said in the statement.

In the first three months, Samsung saw its handset sales increase 25.9 percent from the prior year and its market share rise to 20.7 percent from 16.1 percent the year before, while Nokia Corp slipped to second place with sales of 83.16 million units in the quarter and saw its market share fall to 19.8 percent from 25.1 percent a year earlier, the report showed.

Prior to the first quarter of this year, Nokia had held the No. 1 spot since 1998, according to Gartner.

Apple Inc came third with sales of 33.12 million units and a 7.9 percent global market share with the iPhone maker followed by China’s ZTE Corp (中興) with sales of 17.44 million units and a 4.2 percent market share. South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc, which sold 14.72 million phones in the first quarter had a 3.5 percent market share, Gartner’s report said.

In terms of smartphones, total sales rose 44.7 percent to 144.4 million units in the first quarter from a year earlier with Samsung and Apple widening their lead over the No. 3 Nokia, the report said.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd saw its share of the smartphone market slashed almost in half to 6.9 percent to rank the fourth-largest in the quarter, while the fifth-placed HTC saw its share of the global smartphone market dropped to 5.3 percent from 9.3 percent a year ago, according to Gartner.

Smartphones powered by Google's Android software totaled 81.07 million units and accounted for 56 percent of the global market in the first quarer, while the iPhone operating system was the next most popular with 33.12 million units and 22.9 percent market share, Gartner said.

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