Smartphones make up majority of global mobile sales for first time

Smartphones have made up the majority of mobile phone sales worldwide for the first time, according to new figures.

About 225m were sold globally between April and June, or 51.8% of all mobiles sold in that quarter, research firm Gartner said.

It is the first time smartphone sales exceeded those of feature phones — sometimes disparagingly known as “dumbphones” — the more basic models that have limited or no access to the internet and applications.

The Gartner figures show that Android is absolutely dominating, with 79% of the market powered by the Google software. Apple’s iOS has a 14.2% stake, while BlackBerry’s market share continues to the shrink, with the ailing former phone powerhouse now falling behind Microsoft for the first time in terms of operating systems. Microsoft-powered phones are 3.3% of the global market, with BlackBerry’s only 2.7%.

Revenue from smartphones are increasingly important for tech giants as consumers turn to mobile devices in favour of the traditional laptop or desktop PC.

Lenovo, the Chinese firm which is now the world’s biggest computer maker, is seeing revenue from mobile devices surge as they increasingly become a core part of the business. The company sold 12.6m PCs for the quarter ending June, but it sold 11.4m smartphones, more than double what it sold the year before, results out yesterday show. It is now the fourth largest seller in the world, albeit with a 4.7% market share overall and a concentration of sales in the huge Chinese market.

However, it has eyes on the future, with CEO Yang Yuanqing telling Bloomberg the company was looking to acquire other phone firms as it transforms itself into much more than just a computer maker.

App could be a real eye-opener

A smartphone app currently on trial in Kenya could potentially help hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries to avoid blindness or even have the condition cured.

The app, called PEEK (Portable Eye Examination Kit) has been developed by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, a research fellow at International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The phone first uses a shrinking letter which appears on the screen to test basic vision.

Then it uses the camera flash on the phone to scan the person’s lens for disease and cataracts. The World Health Organisation believes up to 285 million people are visually impaired, yet 80% of the conditions could have been prevented if detected early.

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