The smartphone market seems to be cooling off at last. After years of double-digit growth, sales of mobile handsets in Western Europe were down 4.2 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago, according to IDC’s latest numbers.
Smartphone sales were up 12 percent annually, but this was the slowest growth rate since 2004. Feature phones are dying a quiet death, with shipments down 31 percent to just 12 million units.
Samsung solidified its lead in the market. Its market share rose six percent to 46 percent. The Korean giant shipped 19.9 million phones in the first quarter, up 1.8 million compared to Q1 2012. Apple ranked second with 6.2 million iPhones shipped in Q1, but overall its shipments were down 800,000 units from a year ago. Nokia is in a close third, with 6.1 million units, but its shipments fell 2.6 million units.
These figures include feature phone sales and the smartphone standing is a bit different.
Samsung still reigns supreme with a 45 percent share and 14.3 million units shipped. Apple is second, but its market share dropped from 25 percent to 20 percent. Sony came in third with 10 percent and LG had a very good quarter, quadrupling its shipments and seizing 8 percent of the market. Nokia ranked fifth with just five percent of the smartphone market and 1.6 Lumias shipped. HTC is conspicuously absent from the top five ranking.
In terms of platforms, Android is still on top, with 21.9 million units and a market share of 69 percent, up from 55 percent last year. Apple’s iOS dipped from 25 to 20 percent, while Windows Phone came in third, with a share of six percent.
“We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption in the region. The first wave was driven by those users looking for devices that would meet their mobility needs.” IDC European mobile devices research director Francisco Jeronimo said. “They did look for the best devices in terms of performance and user experience, and more importantly, they were able to afford and pay a premium to get a premium experience. We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption, which will be driven by those users with no need for a smartphone.”
In other words, the market is maturing. People who felt the need for a smartphone already have one and the upgrade cycles are bound to start slowing down, in spite of generous telco subsidies and 2-year plans. On the other hand, feature phones are going extinct and they will be replaced by cheap smartphones rather than high-end devices like iPhones or Galaxy S-series phones.