Feature Article

December 06, 2012

The Worldwide Phone Market Figures for 2012

The mobile phone market worldwide is projected to grow 1.4 percent for 2012; this is the lowest rate of growth in the past three years, despite the record-setting year for smartphone shipments from manufacturers. The recent report, prepared by the International Data Corporation (IDC), called the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker expects more than 1.7 billion phones will be shipped in 2012 by manufacturers.

Despite struggling economies found around the world, smartphones being sold are higher than last year by more than 45 percent. A key reason for this is that cell phone providers offer huge discounts on devices when consumers purchase a new service contract. The fourth quarter of 2012 has seen a dramatic rise in the sales of high-end smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Samsung Note 2, and the iPhone 5, and in developing countries, lower-priced smartphones.

Ramon Llamas, the research manager for International Data Corporation’s Mobile Phone division, describes the shifting “landscape” of operating systems; “Underpinning the worldwide smartphone market is a constantly shifting mobile operating system landscape.” 

Although Android is expected to lead, he says, it is also anticipated to “be the biggest target for competing operating systems to grab market share”.  Llamas says that the Windows phone stands to gain the most market share, but “What bears close observation is how BlackBerry's new platform, BlackBerry 10, and multiple versions of Linux will affect the market once the devices running these systems are available.”

Android-powered devices have taken over the top position in the smartphone wars, largely resulting from the ease-of-use of Android programming and from the fact that, unlike Apple, multiple manufactures produce Android smartphones. Samsung is the largest manufacturer of smartphones, but LG Electronics and Sony are swiftly closing the gap. The iOS platform used by Apple is the second most sold smartphone worldwide, but one of the problems noted for the iOS phones is the high price that is attached to the iPhones. Blackberry is trying to re-emerge with the soon-expected release of its Blackberry 10 next year. The Windows-based phones will trail the Blackberry phones by a slim margin, which will be followed by the Linux-based phones, which get very little fanfare.

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