Q2 mobile sales fall as consumers wait for iPhone 5 launch

Demand for mobile phones slowed in the second quarter of 2012 as consumers delayed upgrades ahead of a blockbuster product launch season this autumn - thought to be headlined by the arrival of the iPhone 5 - according to the latest research from UK-based tech research specialists Gartner.

Overall, the market experienced a 2.3 per cent year-on-year decline. Samsung leads the field with a 21.6 per cent share of sales – up from 16.3 per cent in Q2 2011 – with Nokia slipping to the second spot since last year but still going strong on the back of a continued ability to push feature phones.

However, intelligent devices continue to chip away at sales of less clever pocket-liners: Nokia, for instance, sold some 14 million less units in 2012 than it did last year, with the Finnish firm's market share dropping around 3 per cent as a result.

"The challenging economic environment and users postponing upgrades to take advantage of high-profile device launches and promotions available later in the year slowed demand across markets," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

"Demand of feature phones continued to decline, significantly weakening the overall mobile phone market," he added.

Gartner's latest table (top), released today, reveals that iconic Californian brand Apple owns a relatively modest share of the overall mobile phone market, with just 6.9 per cent of all sales in Q2 2012, though that figure is up over 2 per cent year-on-year. Moreover, Apple only offers three products, all smartphones – the iPhone 3G, 4, and 4S. Samsung, by way of contrast, has 30 smartphones currently available to buy in the UK.

The Korean tech titan enjoyed strong second quarter sales, due in no small part to the success of the Galaxy S3, which shipped a reported 10 million units in the two months after its release. It represented the best-selling Android product in the quarter and the figures could have been even more impressive were it not for early manufacturing difficulties.

"Samsung and Apple continued to dominate the smartphone market, together taking about half the market share, and widening the gap to other manufacturers. No other smartphone vendors had share close to 10 percent," Mr Gupta continued.

China's continued emergence as a mobile market force was highlighted by the success of ZTE. The Guangdong-based company shipped more worldwide units than established brands like Motorola, RIM, and LG, not to mention Asian rival HTC - the staggering 300 per cent growth we reported a few weeks ago wasn't a typo, apparently.

Those BB10 licenses better fly out fast, it seems, as a final trend confirmed by the latest Gartner research is the ongoing decline of Canadian BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion. Thorsten Heins' beleaguered company sold 4.7 million less handsets this year compared to Q2 2011, losing more than 50 per cent of its market share in the process.

Gartner's Q2 mobile phone study follows on from its recent PC market findings, released last week.