Smartphone sales have surpassed sales of standard mobile phones for the first time in 2013 as annual shipments reached 968 million, according to a study from Gartner.
The analyst firm said that sales of smartphones, which accounted for 54% of global mobile phone sales in 2013, had been driven by increased demand in emerging markets.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, told CBR: "Users and buyers have started realising the potential of a smartphone finally in the emerging market.
"Also, if you look at the price point of a smartphone, it has gone down significantly and it is becoming more and more affordable in the last year and a half."
Leading the market, Samsung accounted for 31% of annual sales, up 1% from last year. But sales dipped 1.6% in the fourth quarter mainly due to a saturated market in developed regions.
Gartner said Samsung would have to focus on defining simpler user interfaces and more innovation if it wants to retain leadership.
Apple accounted for 16% of the market, with sales of iPhone 5s and 4s in emerging markets helping the iPhone maker see sales of 50.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"However, Apple’s share in smartphone declined both in the fourth quarter of 2013 and overall, but growth in sales helped to raise share in the overall mobile phone market," said Gupta.
"With Apple adding NTT DOCOMO in Japan for the first time in September 2013 and signing a deal with China Mobile during the quarter, we are already seeing an increased growth in the Japanese market and we should see the impact of the last deal in the first quarter of 2014."
In India, smartphone sales increased by 166.8% in the fourth quarter, while Latin America and China saw a 96% and 86% growth rate respectively.
Gartner said it expects sales of Android phones to continue to reach the one billion mark this year as manufacturers focus on selling low-cost devices.
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