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For First Time Since 2009, Global Cell Phone Sales Drop

Research firm Gartner has revealed that, for the first time since 2009, global cell phone sales dropped during 2012.

Its latest report cited that difficult economic conditions, shifting consumer interest and intense market competition resulted in a worldwide drop in sales last year, which has not declined since 2009.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones reached 1.75 billion during 2012, a 1.7 percent decrease from 2011. During Q4, though, smartphone sales stood at a record 207.7 million units, representing a 38.3 percent increase from 2011. In 2012 as a whole, 700 million smartphones were shipped.

Demand for feature phones, meanwhile, remained weak, with sales totalling 264.4 million units in the fourth quarter, a drop of 19.3 percent year-over-year. Gartner expects worldwide sales of smartphones to spearhead the overall market in 2013 by reaching close to 1 billion units, while total mobile phone sales are estimated to reach 1.9 billion this year. Feature phone sales are expected to continue their sales decline.

In addition to accounting for 103 percent of 2012's handset profits (which is possible because of the consecutive quarterly losses of other firms), Apple and Samsung accounted for a combined market share of 52 percent in Q4, an increase from 46.4 percent in 2011. The South Korean company was the market leader for both worldwide and U.S. smartphone sales as well as overall mobile phone sales.

During 2012, Samsung sold 384.6 million mobile phones, of which 53.5 percent were smartphones. Comparatively, Apple sold 130 million iPhone units.

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