Huawei Becomes Third Largest Smartphone Maker

Huawei pushed past ZTE and Sony to become the third-biggest maker of smartphones in the world during the fourth quarter of 2012, after Samsung and Apple.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

January 25, 2013

4 Min Read

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The global smartphone vendor rankings have shifted again, as China's Huawei and ZTE continue their push into new markets. According to IDC, Huawei saw 89.5% growth year-over-year as it managed to ship 10.8 million smartphone during the fourth quarter of 2012. That put it in third place, behind Samsung's 63.7 million and Apple's 47.8 million.

Rounding out the top five worldwide smartphone vendors are Sony, with shipments of 9.8 million, and ZTE, with shipments of 9.5 million. Both companies had good growth, jumping by 55.6% and 48.4%, respectively, year-over-year.

In absolute smartphone market share, Samsung leads with 29% and Apple follows with 21.8%. Huawei, Sony, and ZTE own 4.9%, 4.5%, and 4.3%, respectively.

"The fact that Huawei and ZTE now find themselves among the top five smartphone vendors marks a significant shift for the global market," said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team. "Both companies have grown volumes by focusing on the mass market, but in recent quarters they have turned their attention toward higher-end devices. In addition, both companies have pushed the envelope in terms of industrial design with larger displays and smaller form factors, as well as innovative applications and experiences."

[ Get more details about Samsung's mobile device success. See Smartphones Again Dominate Samsung's Financials. ]

Keep in mind, these are the rankings for smartphones. The entire mobile phone industry looks a bit different.

Globally, IDC estimates that Samsung shipped 111.2 million devices during the fourth quarter, giving it 23% of the overall mobile phone market. It grew 12.1% year-over-year. Nokia, however, saw its shipments shrink by 23.9% compared to the year-ago quarter to 86.3 million, giving it 17.9% of the market.

Apple ranks third in global mobile phone shipments with its 47.8 million iPhones, giving it 9.9% during the fourth quarter. ZTE ranks fourth in global mobile phone shipments with 17.6 million, giving it 3.6% during the fourth quarter. Huawei ranks fifth in global mobile phone shipments with 15.89 million, giving it 3.3% during the fourth quarter.

Notable absences from the top five during the fourth quarter are Motorola, RIM, HTC and LG. Looking at the rankings for the entire calendar year brings back some of those familiar names. Samsung was the world's number-one provider of smartphones for the entire year with shipments of 215.8 million and 36.6% of the market. Apple was number two with shipments of 136.8 million and 25.1% of the market. Despite its 55% year-over-year drop, Nokia managed to remain in third place with shipments of 35.1 million smartphones and 6.4% of the market. HTC, which dropped 25.2% year-over-year, shipped 32.6 million smartphones for the year and owned 6.0% of the market. Last, Research In Motion shipped 32.5 million devices, giving it a statistical tie with HTC at 6.0% of the market.

Chart: Worldwide Smartphone Vendors Market Share, 2012 Q4Description: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 60 countries and 8 regions by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or [email protected] detail about this tracker can be found at: Samsung, Apple, Huawei, ZTE, Sony, Mobile Phone, Smartphone, IDC, tracker, Q4 2012, mobile phones, 4Q 2012, market share, galaxy, iPhone, Android, iOS, Holiday QuarterAuthor: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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