(By Balachander) Worldwide sales of smartphones jumped 47 percent in the third quarter, with Samsung widening the gap with Apple (AAPL), according to research firm Gartner Inc.
Gartner said total mobile phone sales fell 3 percent to 428 million units in the third quarter, while sales of smartphones rose 46.9 percent to 169.2 million units.
Smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, with the market dominated by Apple and Samsung.
"Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot," commented Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.
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Samsung sold 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012 and its mobile phone sales increased nearly 19 percent to almost 98 million units.
Apple's mobile phone sales totaled 23.6 million units in the third quarter, up 36.2 percent year-on-year.
Nokia's (NOK) mobile phone sales dropped 21.9 percent and its smartphone sales were 7.2 million units, with the Finnish giant slipping to the seventh spot from third in the second quarter of 2012.
"After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," said Gupta.
In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, Gartner noted.
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In mature markets, Gartner said, replacement sales picked up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.
Meanwhile, RIM (RIMM) moved to the third spot with HTC at the fourth spot. "Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters," said Gupta.
While seasonality in the fourth quarter will help end-of-year mobile phone sales to end users, Gartner analysts said there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season.
Consumers are either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents, Gupta said.