Smartphone sales overtook feature phones sales globally for the first time in the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner. The move was forecast to happen this year.
According to Gartner, which tracks sales of phones to end users, smartphone sales accounted for 51.8 percent of all mobile phone sales in the second quarter. The research firm reported that Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe showed the highest smartphone growth rates of 74.1 percent, 55.7 percent and 31.6 percent, respectively, but smartphone sales grew in all regions.
The finding is not surprising. In May the NPD Group predicted that smartphone shipments would overtake basic and feature phone shipments for the first time this year, following a similar forecast from IDC in March.
Nevertheless, the report indicates that falling average selling prices and strong growth of smartphone sales in emerging markets is driving growth, even as more mature markets such as North America and Western Europe are becoming saturated with smartphones. That trend is putting pressure on some handset makers, particularly in the middle of the market, but is a welcome sign for carriers, as smartphone customers typically produce higher average revenue per user.
"There is one stand out reason for why smartphones surpassed feature phones in the second quarter and that was Asia Pacific where sales grew by 74 percent year-on-year, and within the region countries like China and India were driving the growth," Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta told IDG News Service.
According to Gartner, the top five smartphone vendors in the world in the second quarter were Samsung Electronics, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), LG Electronics, Lenovo and ZTE.
Gartner noted that while Apple's sales grew in the quarter, the company faced a significant drop in the ASP of its smartphones, and that despite the iPhone 5 being the most popular model, its ASP declined to the lowest figure registered by Apple since the iPhone's launch in 2007. Gartner said that the ASP reduction is due to strong sales of the iPhone 4, which is sold at a discounted price. Many analysts expect Apple to launch a cheaper iPhone this fall with lower-end components, in addition to a new flagship model, but for years Apple has been selling older iPhone models at discounted rates when it introduces a new version.
Sales of smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone operating system outpaced BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) device sales for the first time ever during the second quarter, Gartner said.
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