More smartphones were shipped globally in the first quarter than feature phones for the first time. More than half (51.6%) the total of 418.6 million handsets shipped were smartphones, signaling how mainstream more sophisticated devices have become in many parts of the world.
"Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away," noted Kevin Restivo, IDC senior research analyst, citing new data.
Picking up where it left off in 2012, Korean manufacturer Samsung dominated both the smartphone and overall mobile phone market in the quarter. It shipped 70.7 million units -- up from 44 million a year ago, representing a one-third share of the smartphone market. Apple was a distant second, with 37.4 million, or 17.3% share. LG, Hauwei and ZTE were all at less than 5%.
Samsung shipped 115 million phones overall in the first quarter, claiming 27.5% share of the world market -- followed by Nokia with 61.9 million shipments, or 14.8% share, and Apple with 37.4 million, or 8.9%. LG and ZTE rounded out the top five, with less than 4% share each.
Reporting second-quarter earnings this week, Apple said the 37.4 million iPhones sold in the first three months of 2013 was up from 35.1 million a year ago. But company executives indicated that the next major update to its signature handset won’t come until the fall. The iPhone 5 was launched last September.
While Samsung and Apple together account for about half the smartphone market, the IDC report noted the continuing rise of China-based competitors.
"A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry (then Research In Motion) and HTC among the top five,” said Ramon Llamas, a research manager with IDC. “While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones."
Increasingly, those companies are looking beyond their home market. With a target of boosting smartphone revenue by 30% this year, ZTE aims to grow in North America and Europe. It will also be one of the first handset makers to introduce a Firefox-powered smartphone this year, according to IDC.