Nearly 1 Billion Smartphones Were Shipped Last Year

Global smartphone shipments grew an estimated 35% in the fourth quarter last year to hit about 280 million units shipped, according to our latest estimates.

Adding that total to the rest of 2013’s results, global smartphone shipments reached about 985 million units for the entire year, growing 45% over 2012’s estimated smartphone shipments.

Samsung maintained its lead in the smartphone market for the fourth quarter. This, despite its first-ever sequential decline, which we took an in-depth look at last week. Although Samsung did not specify how many fewer smartphones it shipped, we estimate 80 million total unit shipments in the last quarter of 2013, 2 million fewer than in the third quarter, or a 3% decline.

As a result, Samsung’s global market share declined slightly, to 29.1% at the end of last year, from 30.6% in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the year, Samsung capped out at about 306 million smartphones shipped, for 44% growth over 2012.

Apple’s iPhone sales sputtered to an underwhelming fourth quarter. iPhone sales fell well below analyst estimates, hitting only about 51 million units for roughly 7% year-over-year growth. market share declined to 18.2% from 23% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Nokia’s fourth quarter shipments also declined sequentially, from 8.8 million to 8.2 million, but its year-over-year growth was still an impressive 86% to close out a strong, revitalizing year. Nokia shipped a total of 30 million smartphones last year, a huge 126% jump over the 13.3 million smartphones the company shipped in 2012.

Click here to download the charts and data in Excel

Here is a look at the data in terms of manufacturers’ shares of shipments.

The top Chinese manufacturers (ZTE, Huawei, and Lenovo) each enjoyed steady growth over the course of 2013. Throughout the year, we charted their combined market share against the rest of the market, but for the fourth quarter we’ve separated each out individually (below).

Notice Huawei and Lenovo grabbing greater market share as ZTE falls off.

For the holiday quarter, Huawei and Lenovo soared past their counterpart ZTE, posting year-over-year growth of 59% and 54%, respectively, while ZTE crawled to just 14% growth. Huawei shipped 16.4 million units, Lenovo 13.9 million units, and ZTE stumbled to about 10.5 million units.

Nonetheless, each vendor’s total annual shipments grew substantially in 2013 versus 2012. ZTE and Huawei posted 65% and 60% growth, respectively.

But it was Lenovo that nearly doubled its shipments for the year to capture 5% of the total smartphone market, and is heading into 2014 looking to convert its domestic growth in China into global success.

To start, Lenovo just took a $US3.3 billion chance on Motorola, a vendor whose annual shipments in 2013 cratered, falling 55% for the year, but whose brand is strong in target areas where Lenovo plans to expand into.

To create our estimates, we looked at numbers from various research firms, including IDC and Strategy Analytics, as well as company-reported numbers, and incorporated knowledge of industry trends.

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