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Feature phone sales slipping

Shipments of feature phones are likely to struggle in the back half of the year, after slipping in the second quarter, Gartner analysts forecast.

The research firm today revealed that overall mobile phone sales to end users fell 2.3% year-on-year to 419 million units during 2Q12. The drop looks to be mostly down to a drop in feature phone sales, given smartphone sales grew 42.7% during the quarter to account for 36.7% of the total.

Analysts state the drop is due to a tough global economy, but also indicates that consumers are holding off until new, high-profile, devices come to market later in the year. They also note the 2Q figures are bad news for Nokia, which fell behing Samsung at the top of the overall shipments table after selling roughly 14,000 fewer devices this year than in 2Q11.

The fall in feature phone shipments is a further blow to the Finnish vendor, given these lower-tier models have been propping it up while it attempts to fight back in the smartphone market. And Gartner's figures suggest that fight back isn't going to plan. A glance at sales by operating system shows Symbian - Nokia's legacy software - grabbed a bigger share than Microsoft during the quarter, albeit much reduced on its position in 2Q11.

Android was, by far, the biggest operating system in the recent quarter, though Gartner points out the anticipated latest iPhone will likely provide a boost for iOS by offering current owners a strong incentive to upgrade.