SAN FRANCISCO—Sales of smartphones continues to drive mobile device market growth in the first quarter of 2012, but global sales of all cell phones declined compared to the first quarter of 2011, according to market research firm Forward Concepts Inc.
Sales of all handsets came to about 379 million units worldwide in the first quarter, down 9 percent from the first quarter of 2011, Forward Concepts said.
"Global sales of mobile devices declined in Q1 more than expected due to a slowdown in demand from the emerging regions," said Carter Horney, the Forward Concepts analyst who served as the principle author of the firm's new report on the handset and tablet markets. "All vendors were impacted at different levels; however, Chinese white-box vendors suffered the most with bloated inventories."
Smartphone sales reached about 139 million units in the first quarter, up a robust 44 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012, according to the Forward Concepts report. Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.—the top two smartphone vendors—raised their combined market share up to nearly 46 percent in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011, Forward Concepts said.
For all of 2011, global cellular handset shipments grew to 1.51 billion units, up 6.5 percent from 2012, Forward Concepts said. Handset shipments increased by 12 percent in 2010, the firm said.
Forward Concepts predicts that total handset shipments will increase 11 percent in 2012. The firm predicts a 17 percent increase in smartphone shipments to 502 million.
Among the top 10 cellphone vendors, Nokia, Samsung and Apple topped 2011 unit shipments while Chinese suppliers Huawei, ZTE and TCL also moved into the top 10, Forward Concepts said. In revenue. Apple led over Samsung and Nokia in smartphones, the firm said. Samsung passed Nokia in overall cell phone unit shipments in the first quarter, with Apple taking the third unit position, according to Forward Concepts.