In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012. Gartner estimated that Android's share of the smartphone market in the third quarter was 72.4 percent, slightly lower than market research firm International Data Corp. estimated earlier this month.
Apple's iOS ranked second among smartphone operating systems in the third quarter, Gartner said. With the launch of iPhone 5 last quarter, Gartner analysts expect iOS share will grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012.
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Among smartphone vendors, Nokia Corp. slipped from No. 3 in the second quarter of 2012 to No. 7 in sales in the third quarter of 2012, according to Gartner. Research in Motion Ltd. improved to No. 3 in smartphone shipments, with Taiwan's HTC Corp. not far behind, according to Gartner.
"Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters," Gupta said.
Fourth quarter seasonality will help end-of-year mobile phone sales, but Gartner analysts said that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season. Consumers are either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents, according to the firm.
Samsung’s mobile phones sales continued to accelerate, totaling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 18.6 percent year-on-year, Gartner said. Samsung enjoyed strong demand for Galaxy smartphones across different price points, and it further widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012, Gartner said. Samsung commanded 32.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, according to Gartner.
Apple's smartphone sales totaled 23.6 million units in the third quarter, up 36.2 percent year-on-year, Gartner said. "We saw inventory built up into the channel as Apple prepared for the coming holiday season, global expansions and the launch into China in the fourth quarter of 2012," Gupta said.
With the holiday season and iPhone 5 launching in more territories in the fourth quarter, including China, Gartner analysts expect Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter.