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Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached almost 428 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 3.1 per cent decline from the third quarter of 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 per cent of total mobile phone sales, as smartphone sales increased 46.9 per cent from the third quarter of 2011.

While the mobile phone market declined year-on-year, Gartner analysts said there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter.

"After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.”

Smartphones continued to fuel sales of mobile phones worldwide with sales rising to 169.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012. The smartphone market was dominated by Apple and Samsung. “Both vendors together controlled 46.5 per cent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” said Mr Gupta.

Nokia slipped from No. 3 in the second quarter of 2012 to No. 7 in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012. RIM moved to the No. 3 spot with HTC not far behind, at No. 4. “Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters,” added Mr Gupta.

While seasonality in the fourth quarter of 2012 will help end-of-year mobile phone sales to end users, Gartner analysts said that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season. Consumers are either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents.

Samsung’s mobile phones sales continued to accelerate, totalling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (see Table 1), up 18.6 per cent year-on-year. Samsung saw strong demand for Galaxy smartphones across different price points, and it further widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. It commanded 32.5 per cent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012.

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