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Global smartphone market healthier than previously thought

Increased focus on emerging markets has driven a 25 percent year-over-year increase in global shipments in the third quarter, according to IDC.

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Steven Musil
2 min read

Samsung volume decreased while Apple benefited from the older iPhone 5S. CNET

Rumors that the global smartphone demand is in decline have been greatly exaggerated, according to market researcher IDC, which reported Wednesday that global smartphone shipments exceeded 300 million during the third quarter of 2014.

Increased emphasis on emerging markets drove the shipment of 327.6 million units during the quarter, a 25.2 percent increase over the year-ago period and an 8.7 percent increase over the second quarter, IDC reported. Those results were similar to the that reported by Strategy Analystics, which found that the market grew 27 percent to a record 320 million units shipped during the quarter.

"Despite rumors of a slowing market, smartphone shipments continue to see record-setting volumes," Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement. "We've finally reached a point where most developed markets are experiencing single-digit growth while emerging markets are still growing at more than 30% collectively. In these markets, smartphone price points are making mobile computing possible where we once expected feature phones to remain dominant."

Samsung held on to its title as the smartphone sales king but was the only vendor in the top five to experience a volume decline year-over-year, due largely to increased competition and slackening demand for high-end devices. Meanwhile, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stole the spotlight for Apple, logging 10 million units sold during its debut weekend, but the older iPhone 5S and 5C models comprised the bulk of the company's shipments for the quarter.

While Samsung and Apple continued to dominate the market, IDC said the record smartphone volume was driven by the next three largest vendors: Xiaomi, Lenovo, and LG Electronics. No. 3 Xiaomi jumped into top five thanks to a focus on China and adjacent markets, producing triple-digit year-over-year growth. Tied at fourth were Lenovo and LG, which benefited from focus on the low-cost smartphone market.

By the numbers: