Consumers worldwide bought 419.1 million mobile devices in the first quarter of 2012, according to Gartner. That’s down 2 percent annually, marking the first time since the second quarter of 2009 that the market exhibited a decline.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement that global sales declined more than expected due to a slowdown in demand from the Asia/Pacific region.
“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,” Gupta said.
Gartner expressed caution for the rest of the year on the dip in Q1 numbers. However, Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner, said that the continued rollout of 3G smartphones by local and regional manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, Yulong and TCL Communication should help spur demand in China. That, in addition to new Android and Windows Phone devices, as well as the next iPhone should help.
Still, Gartner noted that a downward adjustment to 2012 figures, in the range of 20 million units,
Affirming previous Q1 reports from IDC and Strategy Analytics, Samsung emerged at the top of pack, ousting Nokia by selling 86.5 million handsets and grabbing 20.1 percent of the total market in the first quarter. Nokia lost 5.3 percent market share year-over-year, with total device sales falling from 107.5 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 83.1 million in the first quarter of 2012.
Apple captured the third spot overall, selling 33.1 million iPhones. Apple’s total market share increased year-over-year to 7.9 percent from 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2011.
Research In Motion (RIM) sold 9.9 million mobile handsets in the first quarter of 2012, with its global share declining to 2.4 percent as competition increased in its international market strongholds.
“RIM desperately needs to deliver winning BB10 products to retain users and stay competitive,” Gupta said. “This will be very challenging, because BB10 lacks strong developer support, and a new BB10 device will only be available in the fourth quarter of 2012.”
In the smartphone OS market, Android accounted for more than half of all smartphone sales (56.1 percent) in the first quarter of 2012, while iOS devices took 22.9 percent of the market, up from 16.9 percent in the year-ago quarter.