LONDON: Smartphones accounted for 75% of shipments of mobile phones in Western Europe during the second quarter of 2013, as new figures show this segment continuing to grow at the expense of feature phones.

The latest data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that smartphone shipments in the region increased 19% year on year to reach 32.6m units in the quarter, while those of feature phones fell 27% year on year to 10.7m units.

Overall, shipments increased 2.6% year on year to 43.3m units, but this figure represented a decline on the first quarter. IDC attributed this to the product cycle, as new devices tend to be trailed during Q2, leading consumers to either defer purchases in favour of the latest flagship devices or, alternatively, to wait for price reductions on existing devices that follow new product launches.

Francisco Jeronimo, Research Director, European Consumer Wireless and Mobile Communications, noted the continuing tough economic environment across Western Europe but added that this "does not prevent mobile operators from pushing those handsets that will potentially drive higher revenues in the future".

In particular, he referred to the growth of LTE devices, which accounted for 32% of total mobile phone shipments during the second quarter and for 43% of smartphone shipments.

"Although most consumers do not subscribe yet to an LTE data plan when renewing their smartphones, it is important for mobile operators to enable their users with LTE handsets while the expansion of their LTE networks continues," he said.

Consequently "it will be faster to migrate users to an LTE data plan as they become cheaper," he explained.

The GSMA, however, has recently argued that Europe is lagging behind other regions in the deployment of mobile broadband and singled out 4G/LTE as a particular area for concern. It said that LTE technology accounted for just 0.3% of total devices in Europe, compared to 11% in the US and 28% in South Korea.

Among operating systems, Android continued to lead with a 71% share, while Apple dropped to 17.4%, partly on the expectation of a new iPhone release in the third quarter. Shipments of Windows Phones were up 48% year on year to 2m units and accounted for 6.3% of total smartphone shipments.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff