That figure represents a 5.6 percent spike from the same period last year.
In addition to the continuing growth of smartphone adoption, non-smartphone devices also performed well, driven by demand in emerging markets for low-cost devices from white-box manufacturers, and for dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) devices.
Sales into the channel reached 460 million units. Gartner analysts said this increase was because of inventory build-up in the channel partly because of the shipping of new devices late in the quarter but mostly to prepare the channel for the holiday season. Gartner expects most of the build-up to be sold by the first quarter of 2012.
“Our forecast for the end of the year remains broadly in line at a worldwide level as regions such as Asia/Pacific and the Middle East and Africa make up for weaker performance in the Western European market,” says Annette Zimmermann, principal analyst at Gartner.
Smartphone sales to end users reached 115 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 42 percent from the third quarter of 2010.
“Strong smartphone growth in China and Russia helped increase overall volumes in the quarter, but demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets such as Western Europe and the U.S. as many users waited for new flagship devices featuring new versions of the key operating systems,” added Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Slowdowns also occurred in Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.”
“Some consumers held off upgrading in the third quarter because they were waiting for promotions on other new high-end models that were launched in the run-up to the fourth quarter holiday season,” Cozza concluded. “Other consumers were waiting for a rumored new iPhone and associated price cuts on older iPhone models; this affected U.S. sales particularly.”