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For first time, smartphone sales top other mobile phones in first quarter

Six years after first iPhone shipped, Samsung sells more smartphones than next four vendors combined, IDC says

Six years after the sale of the first iPhone and 14 years after the first BlackBerry email pager was unveiled, smartphone shipments have outnumbered sales of other types of mobile phones, IDC reported late Thursday.

IDC said 216.2 million smartphones were shipped globally in the first quarter of 2013. The smartphone total accounted for 51.6% of all mobile phones shipped.

Shipments of other mobile phones, which IDC calls feature phones, totaled 202.4 million in the quarter. Total shipments of all mobile phones was 418.6 million, IDC said.

"The balance of smartphone power has shifted," said IDC analyst Kevin Restivo in a statement. "Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days when phones were used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away."

IDC also noted the emergence of China-based companies, including Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and Lenovo, among the leading smartphone vendors, .

Those newcomers and others have displaced longtime mobile phone leaders Nokia from Finland, BlackBerry from Canada, and HTC from Taiwan, in the list of top five smartphone makers, IDC said.

BlackBerry was producing what was essentially a smartphone before Apple introduced the iPhone in June 2007.

The first BlackBerry device was an email pager, introduced in 1999. Those devices were subsequently combined with voice calling.

Nokia has long been a top producer of mobile phones, though it slipped off the top five list for the first quarter.

A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry and HTC among the top five, said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.

IDC ranked the top five smartphone vendors in the first quarter as: Samsung (70.7%); Apple (37.4); LG (10.3%); Huawei (9.9%); ZTE (9.1%). The rest made up 36.4% of the market.

IDC ranked the top five vendors of feature phones and smartphones combined as: Samsung (27.5%); Nokia (14.8%); Apple (8.9%); LG (3.7%) and ZTE (3.2%). All others combined to hold 41.9% of the market.

LG showed a dramatic 110% year-over-year climb in smartphone shipments, while Huawei's grew by 94% and Samsung's by 61%. ZTE's smartphone shipments grew by 49% and Apple's by just 6.6%.

The last time Apple posted just a single digit year-over-year growth rate was in the third quarter of 2009. Apple has been in the second spot in smartphone rankings in each of the last five quarters, IDC noted.

Samsung, meanwhile, shipped more smartphones in the first quarter than the next four vendors combined, making it the "undisputed leader" in the worldwide smartphone market, IDC said.

Samsung's next generation Galaxy S4 smartphone is about to go on sale, while Samsung is also building a new OS, called Tizen, that will run new smartphones later this year.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected].

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.


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