LONDON: Samsung, Sony and LG were among the brands gaining ground even as the market for mobile phones in Western Europe shrank in the first quarter of 2013, new figures have shown.

The latest data from International Data Corporation (IDC), the market intelligence provider, indicated that total shipments for the period amounted to 43.6m units, 4.2% down on a year earlier, as consumers' disposable incomes contracted and mobile operators reduced handset subsidies.

Shipments of feature phones dropped sharply, down 31% to 12m units, as the uptake of smartphones continued, rising 12% to 31.6m units.

"We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption in the region," declared Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research director at IDC.

He described the first wave as being driven by users looking for the best they could afford in order to get a premium experience. The second wave, he said, "will be driven by those users with no need for a smartphone".

He explained that these were people wanting to replace their existing feature phone with another one, but who were finding that most of the options available to them in-store were smartphones, with bottom-end options around the same prices as their last feature phone.

"With a small push from sales people, the sale is almost guaranteed," said Jeronimo. "But they will buy one of the cheapest smartphones as they still see no value for money."

Samsung continued to strengthen its hold on the smartphone market, as it shipped 31% more units, a total of 14.3m, and saw its share rise from 39% to 45%.

Apple remained in second place, shipping 6.2m units, an 11% decline, while its share slipped from 25% to 20%.

Sony and LG also gained significantly. The former doubled its shipments to 3.2m units and saw share grow from 6% to 10%. LG performed even more strongly, with a 380% uplift in shipments to 2.4m and a market share that leapt from 2% to 8%.

In terms of operating system, Android continued to dominate the smartphone landscape, taking a 69% share in the first quarter.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff