Tablets fail to impact smartphone sales

Worldwide smartphone sales have soared over the last quarter as prices have fallen.

“Crucially, as we predicted, the sudden growth in media tablets, such as the Apple iPad, did not appear to hold back smartphone sales,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“We believe that most tablet users still feel the need for a truly pocketable, yet highly capable, device for those situations when it’s inconvenient to carry a device with a larger form factor.”

Smartphone sales rose by over 50 percent on the second quarter last year, according to Gartner. Mobile device sales to end users totaled 325.6 million units, up 13.8 percent on last year.

Smartphone sales to end users accounted for 19 percent of worldwide mobile device sales.

Component shortages – particularly a lack of active matrix organic LED (AMOLED) displays – have clearly hampered sales of Android phones over recent months.

Nevertheless, Android expanded rapidly in the quarter, overtaking Apple’s iPhone OS to become the third-most-popular OS in the world. In the US, it also overtook RIM’s OS to become the number one.

“Although the mobile communication devices market showed double-digit growth this quarter, average selling prices (ASPs) were lower than expected and margins fell,” said Milanesi.

LG’s prices, for example, dropped 27.8 percent in the quarter.

Gartner also predicted price cuts from service providers, and an increase in tiered data plans.