Last month, Gartner published a report which indicated that the tablet segment will boom over the next few years. The report suggested Apple leading the tablet market with 169.7 million units by 2016 – thereby maintaining a more than 45 per cent worldwide share of the booming sector.
Therefore, most people would have expected a similar explosive growth pattern for the smartphone segment as well. However, the research giant caught everybody by surprise when it revealed that worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached 419.1 million units in the first quarter of 2012, a 2% decline from the first quarter of 2011. To put things in perspective, this is the first time since the second quarter of 2009 that the market exhibited a decline.
Interestingly, Gartner attributes this dip to a slowdown in demand from the Asia-Pacific region and the far-reaching effect of economic uncertainties in developed markets. Gartner also confirmed that Samsung is now the world’s top mobile handset vendor, beating Nokia’s undisputed run which lasted more than a decade.
The research giant says the lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers had a strong effect on the overall sales. China, world’s largest smartphone market, witnessed sales drop by nearly 6% as consumers put their buying plans on hold for to wait for new advanced models. Gartner expects smartphone manufacturers to lower their prices in order to dispose their unsold inventory.
“Global sales of mobile devices declined more than expected due to a slowdown in demand from the Asia/Pacific region,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “The first quarter, traditionally the strongest quarter for Asia – which is driven by Chinese New Year, saw a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year.”
As for Samsung taking pole position ahead of Nokia, it’s been on the cards since last year. The Korean handset manufacturer Samsung has seen remarkable success in the last several years, producing some of the world’s most popular Android devices and producing the only line of tablets that even comes close to rivalling Apple’s success with the iPad. As mentioned by our very own Matt Klassen, Samsung has done a great job of exposing Apple’s weaknesses.
Earlier this month, Samsung posted record breaking numbers related to mobile revenues and units shipped, and there was no doubt left that Samsung has topped the global list in both categories, unseating Nokia in the latter units shipped category and seemingly passing Apple for total mobile revenues.