IDC: Mobile phone market growth returns to 'healthy' status

In spite of a U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearing, Chinese telecoms giant and phone maker ZTE helped drive the third quarter in mobile phone shipments, according to research firm IDC.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Research firm IDC figures show the worldwide mobile phone market grew 2.4 percent in the third quarter year-on-year, accounting for more than 444 million mobile phones, compared to 434 million units in the same quarter a year ago.

IDC said smartphones drove the mobile market train in the third quarter by selling 179.7 million units, accounting for more than 40 percent of all devices shipped. The 45.3 percent year-on-year growth was above IDC's forecast by 0.1 percent, suggesting the mobile device market has returned to a healthy status.

As one might expect, it's good news for Samsung and Apple, pegging in at first and second place respectively as the two market leaders in the smartphone market, while bad news for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, and ailing smartphone makers Nokia and HTC.

Interestingly, in spite of a U.S. House Intelligence Committee, which resulted in lawmakers advising U.S. businesses to avoid buying Huawei and ZTE equipment, surprisingly ZTE helped power forward the mobile phone market and in doing so pushed out Nokia from the global top five smartphone vendors.

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Image credit: IDC

Samsung has seen a 100 percent year-on-year growth, increasing its smartphone share to 31.3 percent, shipping 56.3 million devices worldwide. According to IDC, the Korean electronics giant's growth was boosted by its "broad, deep, and refreshed Android portfolio," as well as offering a range of platforms, including Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Apple, which makes smartphones exclusively, managed more than 57 percent year-on-year growth, shipping 26.9 million units worldwide. However, IDC warned that iPhone shipments remained nearly flat on the previous quarter, in spite of the 5 million iPhone 5 sold in the first week of availability. IDC noted that despite Apple's "Map-gate," iPhone sales were not harmed during the second quarter.

ZTE saw a massive 82.9 percent increase year-on-year and now stands just behind RIM in the top five list of global top smartphone vendors. While RIM continues to slide, ZTE will likely pull off a similar feat to Lenovo in PC rankings, by fueling growth and at the same time allowing RIM to dig its own demise. ZTE's rise comes from emerging market sales and "notable progress" in North America during the second quarter.

Its feature phone segment is declining, however, as the firm continues to develop high-end smartphones.

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Image credit: IDC

Nokia continues to slide -- off the edge of the smartphone rankings altogether -- however it manages to keep a steady hold of the mobile phone market, thanks to its invested interests in the emerging market sector. In spite of that, it fell 22 percent while Samsung, a purveyor of equally developing market devices, grew by 20 percent.

IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said: "Nokia's share losses have meant gains for competitors.

"The company's transition away from Symbian-powered smartphones to ones shipped with Windows Phone has left ample opportunity for rivals to steal share away from Nokia over the past 18 months. However, the smartphone market is still relatively nascent, which means there's room for multiple vendors and operating systems to flourish, including Nokia."

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