Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) Taiwan's HTC Corp. is no longer among the world's top five smartphone vendors following a drop in sales last quarter, surpassed by Huawei Technologies Co. of China and Sony Mobile Communications International AB of Japan, according to a U.S.-based research firm.
Huawei jumped to the third spot with a 4.9 percent share of the market in the fourth quarter of 2012, trailed by Sony Mobile with 4.5 percent and China's ZTE Corp. with 4.3 percent market share, the International Data Corp. (IDC) reported on Jan. 24.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. remained the top player with a 29 percent market share, while second-placed Apple Inc. extended its share to 21.8 percent thanks to record iPhone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, IDC said.
In the quarterly survey that lists only the top five smartphone makers, the research firm did not disclose fourth-quarter figures for HTC, which ranked fifth with a 4 percent market share in the third quarter in IDC's previous report.
HTC, whose share price tumbled to a seven-year low of NT$197 (US$6.72) last November, is set to make a turnaround this year based on its new flagship model.
HTC North Asia President Jack Tong told reporters on Jan. 24 that HTC "has the ability to make Samsung worried", noting that the South Korean electronics giant was closely monitoring HTC's progress.
Since HTC launched its 5-inch J Butterfly smartphone in Japan and Taiwan in December, the Taoyuan-based company has seen "better-than-expected" sales and strong demand, Tong said.
HTC expects sales of its J Butterfly model to overtake Apple's iPhone 5 as the bestseller in Taiwan by the end of January, on the back of continued orders from three major local mobile providers, he added.
The worldwide smartphone market grew 36.4 percent from one year ago to 219.4 million units in the fourth quarter, which represented 45.5 percent of all mobile phone shipments, the highest percentage ever, IDC said.
"The high-growth smartphone market, though dominated by Samsung and Apple, still presents ample opportunities for challengers," noted Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC.
"Vendors with unique market advantages, such as lower-cost devices, can rapidly gain market share, especially in emerging markets," he wrote in the report.
For 2012 as a whole, HTC was ranked as the world's No. 4 smartphone maker with shipments of 32.6 million units and a 4.6 percent market share, though both were down sharply from 43.6 million units and an 8.8 percent share in 2011, the report said.
Samsung and Apple remained the top two vendors by taking 30.3 percent and 19.1 percent share of the market, respectively, with Finnish handset maker Nokia Oyj ranking; third with a 4.9 percent market share, the report showed.
(By Jeffrey Wu)