Global sales of mobile phones fell for the first time in ten straight quarters through January-March, dropping by 2 percent as developed markets continued to struggle with the Eurozone crisis and Chinese buyers held off in anticipation of new model releases from Samsung and Apple.
The data, released by research firm Gartner, also revealed that Samsung is now the market leader in mobile phone sales overtaking Nokia and ending the Finnish company’s 14-year reign at the top.
According to Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta the downturn was a result of a stronger than expected slowdown in demand from the Asia/Pacific region which saw handset sales in China alone fall by more than 6 percent on last year. “The first quarter saw a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year,” Gupta explained.
Nokia was affected most by the downturn as it saw its market share slide from 25.1 percent a year ago to 19.8 percent in March. Most of these losses were picked up by rivals Samsung and Apple with the former leaping ahead of Nokia to become the world’s largest seller of mobile phones. Samsung now holds 20.7 percent of the market share with Apple coming third on the list with 7.9 percent after it saw its market share more than double over the last year.
Gartner expects this slow start to the year to continue throughout 2012 and has revised its annual cellphone market growth down by 1 percent, equivalent to 20 million handsets.
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