The global smartphone market has calcified at the top, with Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continuing to lead the field by large margins, according to the latest reports from research firms Strategy Analytics and IDC. The fight is over which companies can clamor over each other to get to the No. 3 spot--and in the third quarter analysts concluded it was Chinese vendor Huawei.
According to Strategy Analytics, Huawei shipped 12.7 million smartphones in the third quarter (and 14.6 million total handsets), good for third on the smartphone list and fifth among all handset makers. IDC found that Huawei shipped 12.5 million smartphones (up from the 7.1 million IDC recorded in the third quarter last year), which gave it the No. 3 spot in its global smartphone rankings.
Analysts at Strategy Analytics called Huawei "a star performer" in the smartphone market in the quarter, as global shipments grew 67 percent year-over-year from 7.6 million in the third quarter of 2012. The analysts said the company's popular P6 and G610 models have been among the main drivers of Huawei's success. While Huawei remains in a solid position at home in China, its position is weaker in other major markets such as the U.S. and Europe. "Huawei will need to expand aggressively in the American and European markets if it wants to seriously challenge the big two of Samsung and Apple next year," Strategy Analytics concluded.
"Huawei returned to the list of top five vendors after a one-quarter hiatus, narrowly beating out Lenovo and LG," IDC said. "In fact, less than a million units separate Huawei from the next two vendors, underscoring how tightly contested the market has become following Samsung and Apple. Huawei relied on Asia/Pacific for the bulk of its shipment volumes, but the company continued to make headway into Europe and the Americas with volumes exceeding one million units in each region."
IDC had Lenovo as the No. 4 smartphone maker in the period and LG Electronics as No. 5, while Strategy Analytics flipped that ranking on its own list. Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which fell out of the top five smartphone rankings as its Symbian sales dropped to zero and its Lumia Windows Phone sales did not pick up the slack, is starting to edge its way back. The company posted 8.8 million Lumia shipments in the third quarter, but it will need to crack the range of 11-12 million in order to make it back into the top five.
Both IDC and Strategy Analytics reported record global smartphone sales in the third quarter. Strategy Analytics said global smartphone shipments grew 45 percent year-over-year to reach a record 251 million units in the third quarter, while IDC reported that vendors shipped a total of 258.4 million smartphones in the period, establishing a new record for units shipped in a single quarter by more than 9 percent.
Looking at the overall handset market, including smartphones and features phones, Strategy Analytics said global mobile phone shipments grew 7 percent year-over-year to reach 418 million units in the third quarter. IDC pegged the total higher and said vendors worldwide shipped 467.9 million units in the quarter. Both research firms concluded that Samsung continues to lead the overall handset and smartphone markets.
- see this Strategy Analytics post
- see this Strategy Analytics release
- see this IDC release (PDF)
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
Nokia sells record 8.8M Lumias in Q3, gets big boost in N. America
Apple sells 33.8M iPhones in record quarter
Samsung posts another record profit in Q3, but warns of tough smartphone competition
LG posts first loss in mobile unit in a year as competition intensifies
Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE give chase to Apple and Samsung in Q2 smartphone race