As seen in other recent reports of smartphone sales, smartphones had a record fourth quarter in 2014, seeing an increase of 29.9% from the same period in 2013, reaching a whopping 367.5 million units.
The news comes from global analyst giant Gartner, which also noticed Apple taking the top smartphone spot from Samsung for the first time since 2011.
The company says 1.2 billion smartphones were sold last year, up 28.4% from 2013, and represented 2/3rds of global phone sales - which indicates feature and dumb-phones are still 1/3rd of the market.
Indeed, worldwide mobile phone sales of all types to end users totaled nearly 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 3.9% increase from the same period in 2013, with all regions recording growth in 2014, except Japan and Western Europe, which recorded declines of 2.8% and 9.1%, respectively.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner said: “Samsung's performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share.
“Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung's share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure."
Meanwhle, Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner said: “With Apple dominating the premium phone market and the Chinese vendors increasingly offering quality hardware at lower prices, it is through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market.”
Gartner notes Apple’s sales of 74.8 million units in Q4 2014, with its new large screen phones seeing huge demand in China and the US - growing at 56% and 88% respective.
While Samsung is in No.2 spot, Lenovo jumped to No.3 once its acquisition of Motorola was complete, with Xiaomi temporarily reaching the No.3 spot first per reports at the time, after which Lenovo bumped it out of the top 3, reaching 6.6% market share and growing 47.6% YoY, with strong sales in China, Russia, India, Indonesia and Brazil seeing Lenovo grow 26% in the global mobile phone market.
When it comes to other Chinese vendors, such as Huawei and the aforementioned Xiaomi, sales are increasing too, especially in the mid to low-end smartphone market.
Gartner’s Cozza added: “Chinese vendors are no longer followers. They are producing higher quality devices with appealing new hardware features that can rival the more established players in the mobile phone market. Brand building and marketing will be key activities in deciding which Chinese vendors can secure a foothold in mature markets."
Ever lower smartphone prices are also bringing people from the feature phone fold into the smartphone space, benefiting Android the most, and while Windows Phone had a flat 2014, it still managed strong results in some European markets, grew its share by 4% in Australia as reported in Kantar stats and enjoyed some success in the business market.
Naturally, Gartner would love to sell you a copy of its full and detailed report entitled “Market Share: Devices, All Countries, 4Q14 Update,” which you can find more information about here.