Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa will be the saviors of handset sales in the final quarter of 2011, with shipments to the markets offsetting weaker sales in Western Europe, Gartner predicts.
The research firm notes that demand from emerging markets was a key driver of a 5.6% year-on-year increase in overall shipments during the third quarter, while smartphone sales in the period were lifted by strong demand in China and Russia.
A total of 440.5 million handsets were sold in 3Q11, 115 million of which were smartphones. While the figure is up 42% year-on-year, Gartner notes that sales growth slowed when compared to 2Q11.
“Strong smartphone growth in China and Russia helped increase overall volumes in the quarter, but demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets such as Western Europe and the US,” principal analyst Roberta Cozza notes.
While Cozza attributes the slowdown to users holding off for new models, she notes smartphone sales also fell away in the Middle East and Latin America during the quarter.
The trend towards emerging markets is good news for Nokia, which maintained its global number one status on the back of strong sales of low- and mid-tier units – particularly dual-SIM models, which Gartner notes were popular during the quarter.
Gartner’s figures show Nokia shipped 105 million devices in 3Q11, compared to second-placed Samsung’s 78.6 million, and LG Electronics 21 million. Apple and ZTE round out the top five, with shipments of 17.2 million and 14.1 million respectively.