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The smartphone market is still growing, but Samsung's lead isn't

gadgets Updated: Apr 30, 2014 11:53 IST

According to Strategy Analytics's shipping figures for the first quarter of the year, published Tuesday, a massive 285 million handsets shipped -- up 33 % on the same period last year -- and most of the growth is thanks to continuing demand for smartphones in Asia.

Yet, despite this growth, Samsung saw its market share drop from 32 % to 31 % while Lenovo -- the company that is in the process of acquiring Motorola -- saw its share jump from 4 % to 5 %.

If Strategy Analytics' figures are considered in isolation, Samsung's dip in form is the first that it has experienced since 2009 and the research and analytics firm puts the loss down to increased competition at both ends of the market.

At the entry level Lenovo and fellow Chinese firm Huawei are proving that they can not only hold their own but that they can make handsets that consumers beyond Asia find appealing.

Huawei is now expanding into Europe and has embarked on some ambitious high-profile marketing campaigns, not least becoming the official smartphone partner to Arsenal Football Club in the UK.

Likewise, if the takeover receives regulatory approval, Lenovo will see its market share jump further still when it adds a resurgent Motorola's figures to its own-branded smartphone sales. Motorola has already reported that it shipped over 6 million handsets over the first quarter of 2014.

At the other end of the market, as well as better and better handsets from HTC and LG, Samsung is having to take on Apple.

Unlike other smartphone makers, Apple actually divulges its smartphone sales and makes the figures public. So over the period that Strategy Analytics's figures run, Apple sold, not shipped 43.7 million handsets, up 17 % annually but only equating to a 15 percent global market share (down from 17% in Q1 2013).

That means that while Apple and Samsung still dominate the market, their combined share has slipped from 50 % to 47 %.

So while Samsung is still the world's leading smartphone maker (89 million phones) and Apple (43.7 million) is second, Huawei and Lenovo are pretty much in joint third with 13.4 million and 13.3 million handset shipments respectively and closing fast.

And then there's the aforementioned LG. Strategy Analytics doesn't break out the manufacturer's figures separately in its data but LG has already confirmed that over the last quarter it shipped 12.3 million smartphones -- up 19 % from the last quarter -- and the company is prepping some very interesting future premium and mid-tier handsets for launch later this year.