Worldwide smartphone sales jumped 20.3 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2014 (3Q14), according to Gartner. All told, 301 million smartphones wound up in users' hands by the end of September.
Feature phones are becoming an increasingly rare sight, observed the market research firm.
Gartner research director Roberta Cozza noted in prepared remarks that feature phone sales "declined 25 percent in the third quarter of 2014 because the difference in price between feature phones and low-cost Android smartphones is reducing further." By 2015, Gartner predicts that nine out of ten mobile phones sold will be smartphones.
Emerging markets delivered "some of the highest growths ever recorded," stated the firm. In the U.S., strong demand for Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus helped sales up 18.9 percent.
Apple's momentum is expected to continue through the crucial year-end shopping season. "Over the holidays we expect record sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but we should not underestimate the Chinese vendors and local brands," said Annette Zimmermann, a Gartner research director, in a statement. "Chinese players will continue to look at expanding in overseas emerging markets."
Chinese smartphone vendors, namely Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo, account for three of the top five best-selling brands for 3Q14. "With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too and address the needs of upgrade users that aspire to premium phones, but cannot afford Apple or Samsung high-end products," said Cozza.
Samsung still reigns in the smartphone market with over 73.2 million units sold in the third quarter and a market share of 24.4 percent. Apple claims the number two spot with over 38.1 million units and 12.7 percent of the market.
"Sales of iPhones grew 26 percent in the third quarter of 2014. With the introduction of two large-screen phones for the first time, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple managed to neutralize the advantage of Android competitors," stated Gartner.
China's Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo round out the top five, each selling more than 15 million units and individually claiming roughly 5 percent market share.
Google's Android mobile operating system powered over 250 million of the smartphones sold in 3Q14 for 83.1 percent of the market. Apple's iOS was a distant second with 38.1 million iPhones and 12.7 percent market share. Microsoft's Windows Phone trailed with 9 million units and 3 percent market share while ailing Blackberry clung to 0.8 percent of the market with sales of 2.4 million smartphones.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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