RIVAL PHONE MAKERS Apple and Samsung both saw their market shares shrink in the fourth quarter, which analyst outfit Gartner said was due to the "saturated" smartphone market.
According to Gartner's latest figures that it released on Thursday, Apple's market share slipped from 20.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 17.8 percent in 2013, while Samsung saw its share drop from 31.1 percent to 29.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
According to Gartner, this was because the smartphone market has become saturated, with sales of smartphone devices overtaking those of feature phones for the first time in 2013. Gartner principal research analyst Anshul Gupta said, "Mature markets face limited growth potential as the markets are saturated with smartphone sales, leaving little room for growth."
However, this lack of growth isn't just because of booming smartphone sales, with Gartner also blaming the slowdown on a lack of innovative hardware from Apple and Samsung.
Gupta added, "Lack of compelling hardware innovation has further exacerbated replacement cycles for high-end smartphones in 2013 because consumers don't find enough reasons to upgrade."
However, Gartner expects Apple to see growth in the first quarter, thanks to its recent partnerships with Japanese network NTT Docomo and China Mobile to boost Apple's figures in 2014.
The research firm didn't have such an optimistic outlook for Samsung, however, and said that in order to improve smartphone sales, it first needs to improve the quality of its smartphones.
"Samsung will also need to build a clearer value proposition around its midrange smartphones, defining simpler user interfaces, pushing the right features as well as seizing the opportunity of bringing innovations to stand out beyond price in this growing segment," the analyst outfit said.
Gartner's figures also shed some light on how other smartphone makers are doing, and it seems that not all manufacturers are losing market share.
Huawei, for example, saw its market share grow 1.5 percent last quarter, with the Chinese phone maker claiming 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. Lenovo also saw its market share grow from 3.8 percent to 4.7 percent, while LG's market share increased from 3.9 percent to 4.5 percent. µ