SAN FRANCISCO—South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. shipped more than 63 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2012—a record—as total quarterly sales of smartphones from all vendors increased 36 percent year-over-year to reach 219.4 million units, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
For all of 2012, vendors shipped a combined 712.6 million smartphones, up 45 percent from 2011, IDC (Framingham, Mass.) said.
Total mobile phone shipments grew to 1.7 billion in 2012, up 1.9 percent from 2011, IDC said. Total mobile phone shipments in the fourth quarter equaled 482.5 million, up 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, IDC said.
"The high-growth smartphone market, though dominated by Samsung and Apple, still presents ample opportunities for challengers," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. "Vendors with unique market advantages, such as lower-cost devices, can rapidly gain market share, especially in emerging markets."
Restivo noted that China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. overtook Taiwan's HTC Corp. in the fourth quarter to move into the top five in smartphone sales.
"The fact that Huawei and ZTE now find themselves among the Top 5 smartphone vendors marks a significant shift for the global market," said Ramon Llamas, a mobile hone research manager at IDC, in a statement. "Both companies have grown volumes by focusing on the mass market, but in recent quarters they have turned their attention toward higher-end devices."
Both Huawei and ZTE have also "pushed the envelope" in terms of larger displays and smaller form factors, as well as innovative applications, Restivo said.
Smartphones accounted for 45.5 percent of all mobile phones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012, the highest percentage ever, IDC said.
In rising to No. 3 in the world in smartphone sales, Huawei has courted both the mass market with its simple and inexpensive smartphones and the high-end of the market with its Ascend-branded product line, according to IDC.