Huawei Surpasses ZTE, Sony And Nokia To Become Third Largest Smartphone Vendor

By Alexandra Burlacu email: a.burlacu@mobilenapps.com | Jan 28, 2013 02:16 PM EST

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China's Huawei continues to soar and push into new markets, and the Shenzhen-based company has now climbed in global smartphone vendor rankings.

Huawei has surpassed rivals such as ZTE, Sony, Nokia, LG and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) in the global smartphone race, and now sits pretty in the third spot, right behind Samsung and Apple.

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According to market research firm IDC, Huawei saw an 89.9 percent growth year-over-year, shipping 10.8 million smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, Samsung kept the top spot with 63.7 million units shipped, and Apple ranked second with 47.8 million units shipped.

Sony and ZTE round up the top five worldwide smartphone vendors, with shipments of 9.8 million units and 9.5 million units, respectively. Both companies saw strong growth, climbing by 55.6 percent and 48.4 percent, respectively, year-over-year.

In terms of absolute smartphone market share, Samsung leads the way with 29 percent, followed by Apple with 21.8 percent. Huawei follows with 4.9 percent, Sony with 4.5 percent, and ZTE with 4.3 percent.

"The fact that Huawei and ZTE now find themselves among the top five smartphone vendors marks a significant shift for the global market," noted Ramon Llamas, an IDC mobile team research manager. "Both companies have grown volumes by focusing on the mass market, but in recent quarters they have turned their attention toward higher-end devices. In addition, both companies have pushed the envelope in terms of industrial design with larger displays and smaller form factors, as well as innovative applications and experiences."

These rankings, however, refer to smartphones. The phone industry on the whole paints a different picture. According to IDC's estimates, Samsung shipped about 111.2 million devices globally during the fourth quarter, seizing 23 percent of the overall phone market. This means the company saw a 12.1 percent growth year-over-year. Nokia, meanwhile, saw a 23.9 percent decline in shipments compared to the same quarter a year ago. The Finnish company shipped 86.3 million devices, grabbing 17.9 percent of the market.

Apple comes in third in global mobile phone shipments, with 47.8 million iPhones shipped and grabbing 9.9 percent of the market during the fourth quarter. ZTE ranks fourth with 17.6 million, i.e. 3.6 percent of the market, while Huawei rounds up the top five in global mobile phone shipments with 15.89 million, meaning 3.3 percent of the market during the fourth quarter. Motorola, RIM, HTC, and LG did not make the top five during the fourth quarter.

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