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Smartphone Pressure Mounts for Samsung and Apple Exiting a Strong Q4 2012, According to ABI Research

Nearly 196 million smartphones and 451 million handsets were shipped during Q4 2012, according to the latest estimates from marketing intelligence firm ABI Research. This brings 2012 annual totals to 653 million smartphone and 1.6 billion handset shipments, representing a 36% and 2% YoY growth rate respectively. Smartphones accounted for 43% of all handset shipments in Q4, which pushed smartphones to 41% of all shipments in 2012.

Samsung retained its lead position overall by shipping 106 million handsets of which 60 million were smartphones in Q4 and capturing 31% of total smartphone shipments. In 2012 Samsung grew its handset shipments by 21.6% and its smartphone shipments by 123.8%. Despite missing most analyst estimates in Q4, Apple grew its smartphone shipment share to 24.5%, up from 16.4% in Q3. Apple shipped 47.8 million iPhones in Q4 bringing its 2012 annual total to 135.8 million. Apple’s 2012 annual shipment growth declined from 96% in 2011 to 46% in 2012.

“It is clear that the iPhone’s hyper-growth has ended, and ABI Research believes that Apple’s market share will peak in 2013 at 22%,” says mobile devices senior analyst Michael Morgan. “Unless Apple is willing to trade iPhone margins for low cost iPhone shipments, Apple’s handset market share will become dependent on customer loyalty.”

Looking at the rest of the pack, Nokia shipped 86.3 million handsets and 6.6 million smartphones in Q4 while RIM’s shipments of smartphones declined to 6.9 million. ZTE had an excellent Q4 with 20.7 million handset shipments and 11.2 million smartphone shipments.

“Samsung and Apple are both under pressure to maintain their market lead as less costly smartphones gain momentum entering 2013,” notes senior practice director Jeff Orr. “Technology optimization choices and a diverse handset portfolio are critical decisions over the next 6 to 9 months to come out ahead.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Mobile Handset Markets Database, which includes files detailing smartphone and mobile handset shipments, forecasts, and market share.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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