The iPhone 5 contributed to Apple's succes in 2012. cnet.com
Despite the overall slump, a record number of smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2012. 207.7 million units were purchased, up 38.3 percent from the same period in 2011.
Anshul Gupta, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner, said: “The last time the worldwide mobile phone market declined was in 2009. Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year.”
Samsung and Apple took their combined global market share to 52 percent in the fourth quarter of the year, with Samsung ending the year in top spot.
Gupta added: “The success of Apple and Samsung is based on the strength of their brands as much as their actual products. Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers, who, in a tough economic environment, go for cheaper products over brand.”
Huawei reached the number three spot for smartphone sales for the first time at the end of the year, in total selling 27.2 million units in 2012. That figure is 73.8 percent rise on 2011.
Gartner believe the competition will intensify in 2013, with Nokia and Sony likely to improve. The Finnish manufacturer enjoyed a good end to 2012 with the success of its Asha mobiles and the Lumia Windows Phone 8, but in total saw a huge 53.6 percent drop in its smartphone sales on 2011.
Gupta added that Samsung’s powerful brand and hold on the Android market was the core reason for its success in 2012.
He said: “With Samsung commanding over 42.5 percent of the Android market globally, and the next vendor at just six percent share, the Android brand is being overshadowed by Samsung's brand with the Galaxy name nearly a synonym for Android phones in consumers' mind share.”