A new report says the global mobile phone market declined by 1.7% in 2012, down from 1.78 billion devices sold in 2011 to 1.75 in 2012.
This is the first time the global mobile sales have fallen from the previous year since 2009, according to Gartner, the research firm that put together the report.
“Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year,” the report says.
Another reason for the drop is the weakening demand for feature phones, which possess some smartphone abilities but are limited. While smartphones had record sales and were up 38.3% for the fourth quarter of 2012, feature phone sales fell by 19.3% -- and that decline is expected to continue.
As a whole, however, the report predicts the mobile market will do better next year. Gartner says it expects mobile sales to reach 1.9 billion in 2013 -- with a 1 billion coming solely from smartphones.
It also says 2013 will be the year of the third ecosystem, as carriers try to break free from the influence of Apple and Google Android while Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry 10 and others duke it out.
"Alternative operating systems such as Tizen, Firefox, Ubuntu and Jolla will try and carve out an opportunity by positioning themselves as profitable alternatives,” the report says.