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Emerging markets drive smartphone growth in Q3

Vendors of low-cost smartphones capitalise on mass switch from feature phones

Emerging markets drive smartphone growth in Q3
Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 353m units in Q3

Continued demand for affordable smartphones in emerging markets drove worldwide sales of smartphones in the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest figures from Gartner.

In its most recent report, Gartner said that global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 353m units in Q3, a 15.5% growth over the same period in 2014.

"The availability of affordable smartphones in emerging markets saw consumers upgrade their 'feature phones' to smartphones more quickly because of the small price gap," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

"Smartphone sales in emerging markets rose to 259.7 million in the third quarter of 2015 - an 18.4% growth over the third quarter of 2014 - while sales in mature markets saw growth of just 8.2% over the same period."

In terms of vendors, Samsung used to Q3 to refresh its flagship devices just four months after its previous refresh to address slowing demand for its high-end devices, and further compete with Apple's large-screen iPhones.

Apple continued its dominance in the premium segment of the smartphone market with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models for most of the third quarter of 2015. The global launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus during the last week of September 2015, along with the simultaneous launch in China, further added to its overall sales during the quarter, Gartner said.

Meanwhile, the research house said that Huawei continued its growth momentum, driven by smartphone sales in both its home market and global markets, particularly Europe, where sales were driven by its ever-growing brand visibility.

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Apple's iOS continued to see strong performance and grew 21%, above market average. Android gained 1.4 percentage points in share year over year thanks to strong smartphone sales from Samsung and Huawei globally. Windows smartphone market share dropped from 3% to 1.7% year over year.

"Despite the announcement of Windows 10, we expect Windows smartphone market share will continue to be a small portion of the overall smartphone OS market as consumers remain attracted by competing ecosystems," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

"Microsoft smartphones will mainly focus on driving value for enterprise users." 

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled nearly 478 million units during the third quarter of 2015, an increase of 3.7% from the same period in 2014. Continued growth in emerging markets helped bolster sales of local brands. As a result, Micromax Informatics cemented its place among the top 10 global mobile phone vendors worldwide, while Chinese brands such as ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi, TCL Communication Technology, Oppo and BBK became increasingly aggressive in the emerging markets, Gartner said.

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