The worldwide mobile phone market grew 6.1% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q11), as the feature phone market declined faster than anticipated, dragging market growth down to its lowest point in over two years.
According to the IDC research group (http://www.idc.com), vendors shipped 427.4 million units in 4Q11 compared to 402.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The 6.1% year-over-year growth was higher than IDC’s forecast of 4.4% for the quarter, but weaker than the 9.3% growth in 3Q11.
IDC says Apple jumped into the third spot globally from the fifth spot last quarter thanks to a record-breaking quarter of shipments. That represents the Cupertino-based company’s highest-ever ranking on IDC’s top 5 global mobile phone leaderboard.
The launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S smartphone, which is now available in over 90 countries (as of mid-January), was the primary reason the company leapt over LG and ZTE in 4Q11. Device sales in the U.S. and Japan were particularly strong given extra sales days in the quarter and carrier distribution.