LG stages comeback as smartphones outsell feature phones for first time

The company more than doubled smartphone sales to become the third-largest smartphone vendor

LG Electronics more that doubled its sales of smartphones in the first quarter, which was the first time smartphones outsold feature phones, according to market research company IDC.

Vendors shipped 418.6 million mobile phones during the first three months of the year, with the 216.2 million smartphones sold accounting for 51.6 percent of all phone sales, according to IDC.

Other analysts have put the share of smartphones lower: It was 49 percent, according to ABI Research. But they all agree that smartphone sales are taking over the market.

Samsung Electronics continues to dominate. It shipped 70.7 million smartphones during the first quarter, 60.7 percent more than a year earlier, according to IDC.

Apple remains the second-largest smartphone vendor, shipping 37.4 million iPhones. That's an annual growth rate of just 6.6 percent, though, the slowest of the top five vendors. The last time iPhone sales posted a single-digit year-on-year growth rate was in the third quarter of 2009.

LG, on the hand, managed to more that double its shipments, to 10.3 million units. That was enough to outship both Huawei Technologies and ZTE, which last year were ahead of the South Korean vendor. LG's growth was driven in large part by its 3G smartphone portfolio, including the L series and the Nexus 4. LTE-enabled devices, including the Optimus G series, also contributed to LG's success, according to IDC.

Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were in fourth and fifth place respectively. Huawei grew shipments by 94.1 percent to 9.9 million units. Since the first quarter of 2012, Huawei has successfully decreased its dependence on rebranded feature phones while growing its Ascend portfolio smartphones, IDC said.

ZTE shipped 9.1 million smartphones, a 49.2 percent increase year on year, thanks to a strong showing in the Asia-Pacific region and North America, according to IDC.

The top five vendors during the first quarter of 2012 were Samsung, Apple, Nokia, RIM and HTC: The last three have all been passed by LG, Huawei and ZTE in the last twelve months.

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