On the heels of a positive first quarter, the Western European mobile phone market failed to maintain a positive trend due to a weaker economic environment and the new product launches expected in the third quarter, said a new report by market research firm IDC. The total shipments of devices dropped 1.9 percent year on year to 42.1 million units.
According to the report, the feature phone segment continued to decline, with shipments down 30 percent to 14.7 million units, compared with 21.1 million during the same quarter last year.
However, the feature phone segment continues to be supported by the lowest price bands - 58 percent of total feature phone shipments were under €60 ($75.2) and the highest growth in the segment came from the €20 - €40 ($25 - $50) price band.
Although the total smartphone shipments increased 26 percent year on year to 27.4 million units in Q2, 2012, it was not enough to offset the decline in feature phones. Smartphones accounted for 65 percent of total shipments.
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According to Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager at IDC, the second quarter was impacted by a weaker economic environment in Western Europe, which contributed to the lower demand. He also said that there were rumors that a number of devices would be unveiled in the third quarter and mobile operators were focused on clearing stocks ahead of the new launches.
"The Samsung Galaxy S3 was the only major product release in the second quarter, and therefore the biggest seller in the quarter, which contributed to Samsung's dominance in the market," said Jeronimo.
In addition, a number of new devices on different operating systems are expected to be released in the third quarter. These new devices are likely to represent major developments from previous versions, and current devices may not be upgradable to the new platform releases.
Therefore, according to Jeronimo, many consumers have decided "postpone their upgrades and wait for the new 'crown jewels' from the major OEMs to be unveiled."
During the quarter, Android continued to increase its market share, supported by Samsung's strong performance. Google's OS grew 71 percent year on year, only outpaced by Windows Phone 7, which grew 874 percent year on year. Android now accounts for 65 percent of total smartphone shipments in the region.
Samsung achieved its highest market share, accounting for 41 percent of total shipments, beefed up by the smartphone segment, though the company lost its leadership in the feature phone segment to Nokia. As in previous quarters, the success of the Galaxy line-up, particularly the Galaxy S3 this quarter, was the main contributor to higher market shares in both volume and value.
On the other hand, Apple was impacted by the rumors surrounding a new iPhone, the so-called "iPhone 5," which will announced by the company during a media event on Sept. 12, with the actual release is expected to take place on Sept. 21.
IDC report said that Apple iPhone's shipments slowed as consumers postponed their replacements until a new device is confirmed.