LONDON: Smartphone shipments outpaced those recorded by feature phones for the first time in Western Europe during the second quarter of 2011, a study has indicated.

IDC, the research group, estimated that 21.8m smartphones were shipped in Q2 2011, a 48% increase year on year, versus 20.4m feature phones, which recorded a 29% decline annually.

IDC suggested many telecoms firms have stopped subsidising feature phones, putting off potential buyers, and leaving a "niche segment" of low-end users who only want to use voice and text services.

"This quarter was particularly important from the device type perspective," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC.

"Smartphones now dominate the Western European phone market and those vendors with stronger portfolios in the segment are consolidating their positions, compared with those manufacturers with less attractive smart devices."

Samsung led the market in terms of total shipments, boasting a 33% share, up from the 25% logged 12 months earlier. This equated to 13.9m units, of which 4.8m were smartphones.

Nokia claimed an aggregate second position on 9m units, a 21% share, down 37% versus a year ago, with its number of smartphone shipments plummeting from 5.8m handsets to just 2.3m.

Apple shipped 4.6m iPhones across the period in question, giving it an 11% share of the sector as a whole, and 21% of the smartphone category.

Google Android, which powers smartphones made by firms like Samsung, HTC and Sony Ericsson, was responsible for 10.5m of the handsets shipped during the second quarter.

This constituted a 325% increase year on year, and meant Google's operating system ran 48.5% of all the smartphones covered by IDC's data, primarily thanks to Samsung.

Overall, IDC stated the mobile phone market actually contracted by 3% in Q2 2011 measured against Q2 2010, and reported the fragile economic climate played a significant role in this process.

IDC also asserted many current Nokia customers may be waiting for its anticipated Windows Phone, while other operators like HTC and Apple are trying to clear inventories before rolling out new devices.

Data sourced from The Independent/IDC; additional content by Warc staff