Global mobile sales fell 1.7 percent in 2012 because of "tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition," said industry research firm Gartner in a report released today.
A total of 1.75 billion units worldwide were sold to end users in 2012. However, the decline hasn't been seen in all periods of the year. Fourth-quarter 2012 smartphone sales reached 207.7 million units, 38.3% higher than the same quarter last year.
Projecting ahead, Gartner expects that global smartphones sales to end users will be close to 1 billion units in 2013, while overall mobile phone sales to end users will reach 1.9 billion units by the end of the year.
Apple and Samsung were the two biggest winners in 2012, according to Gartner's report. Their joint market share in the smartphone segment was 52% in Q4 2012, up from 46.4% in Q3 2012.
Nokia, however, did not fare as well. The former market leader's handset sales were up in the fourth quarter, bolstered by a good response to its Asha mobile phones and the recent launch of its latest Lumia models running Windows Phone 8. Still, the momentum was not sufficient enough to get Nokia out of its rut—the smartphone maker's market share is at the lowest point it has ever been, according to Gartner. In 2012, Nokia sold 39.3 million smartphones worldwide, less than half what it sold in 2011.