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More of the same: Apple, Samsung still winning in shrinking mobile market

Yawn. If you were expecting a massive change in the mobile device landscape over the last quarter, sorry. Apple and Samsung are still on top of the smartphone pile and Nokia’s still in heaps of trouble.

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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While we’re buying less phones over all, the ones we are buying are increasingly smartphones.

According to tech research company Gartner, worldwide sales of mobile phones declined 3.1% from the same time last year. Smartphone sales meanwhile accounted for 39.6% of total mobile phone sales, as they increased 46.9% from the third quarter of 2011.

Unsurprisingly the two companies dominating the space are Samsung and Apple. Nokia slipped from number three in the second quarter of 2012 to number seven in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012.

“Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” said Anshul Gupta, a principal research analyst at Gartner.

RIM moved to the number three spot with HTC not far behind, at number four. “Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters,” added Gupta.

Mobile sales

While the mobile phone market declined year-on-year, Gartner reckons there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter.

“In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.”

Nokia’s mobile phone sales declined 21.9% in the third quarter of 2012, but overall sales at 82.3-million were better than Gartner’s early estimate, largely driven by increased sales of the Asha full touch range.

The arrival of the new Lumia devices on Windows 8 should help to halt the decline in share in the fourth quarter of 2012, although things probably won’t improve for the Finnish giant until some time in 2013.

Apple’s phone sales totalled 23.6-million units in Q3, up 36.2% year-on-year. As the Cupertino-based giant noted in its most recent earnings call, things will only get better during the holiday quarter.

In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012.

Although RIM lost market share, it climbed to the number three position as Symbian crept ever closer to its inevitable death.