Smartphones accounted for the 49% of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2013, coming tantalizingly close to overtaking feature phone sales for the first time ever, according to Gartner.
That share is up from 44% a quarter prior and 34% the same quarter a year ago.
(Another market research firm, IDC, had smartphone sales slightly edging out feature phone sales in the first quarter.)
In any case, it is almost certain that smartphone sales will race past feature phone sales this quarter.
Interestingly, smartphones’ increasing share is not only a product of surging smartphone sales, but the collapse of the feature phone market. Feature phone sales were down 21% year-over-year and an astonishing 18% compared to the previous quarter.
While almost everyone expects smartphones to eventually smother the feature phone market, there are still more than 4 billion feature phone users in the world, so one assume there would still be healthy demand for feature phones.
However, we speculated in our smartphone market forecast that perhaps there is little reason to upgrade feature phones, since most product innovation is in the smartphone market. Also, there is a robust second-hand market for feature phones in the developing world, meaning there’s less of a need to buy shiny, new phones.
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