Smartphones more popular than feature phones in Western Europe

Smartphone shipments outstripped feature phone shipments in Western Europe for the first time during the second quarter of 2011 said market researcher IDC in a study published September 9.

Smartphone shipments grew to reach 52 percent of the total mobile phone shipments within the region during the second quarter of 2011 - an increase of 48 percent year over year to 21.8 million units. Feature phone shipments, on the other hand, dropped by 29 percent to 20.4 million units.

The large increase in smartphone shipments across all European countries can be largely attributed to a surge in consumer adoption of "smart" Android and iOS devices.

Market researcher IDC also suggests that feature phones have become "a niche segment driven by the very-low-end devices targeted at users who only need a device for voice and texts."

While smartphone shipments are on the rise, the total Western European mobile phone market declined by 3 percent year over year to 42.2 million units.

Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC, said that a number of factors were responsible for the drop including the current economic environment in the Eurozone and "the sharp decline of Nokia, which was not totally offset by the remaining players, which may indicate that Symbian fans are holding off on their phone replacements until Nokia launches its Windows Phones."

"Lastly," he added, "operators focused on clearing inventories for the introduction of the new devices expected in the third quarter, such as the iPhone5 from Apple and Windows Phones from HTC and other players."

Samsung was the most popular phone vendor in the region during 2Q11 with a 33 percent market share followed by Nokia (21 percent), Apple (11 percent), HTC (7 percent) and Research In Motion (7 percent).

A September 6 report by Taiwan’s DigiTimes Research division predicts that Apple will surpass Nokia to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer in 2011.

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