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The fastest growing smartphone market, China and its environs, appears to prefer locally produced hardware – as strong sales have pushed Lenovo into third place in the worldwide rankings, according to the latest data from Gartner.

The analyst house reported that Lenovo scooped 5.1 per cent of the market for smartphones, however Samsung is still the top dog with an unchanged market share at 32.1 per cent. Apple however had a bad quarter, with sales down two per cent, year on year, to 12.1 per cent of the world's smartphone sales.

"While the arrival of the new iPhones 5s and 5c had a positive impact on overall sales, such impact could have been greater had they not started shipping late in the quarter. While we saw some inventory built up for the iPhone 5c, there was good demand for iPhone 5s with stock out in many markets," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Chinese vendor Huawei also had a good year, seeing its share grow to near five per cent, but it remains just behind South Korean firm LG in fourth place globally with 4.8 per cent of smartphone sales.

Lenovo's performance is impressive for the firm, which came relatively late into the smartphone market, but the company has very little footprint outside of Asian markets. The Chinese firm has been mooted as a buyer for the former world number three Blackberry, but it may hold off and pick up the pieces from the crumbling Canadian concern at a later date.

On the operating system front, the domination of Android continues with Google's OS on 81.9 per cent of smartphones, up from 72.6 per cent last year, with Apple firmly in second place with 12.1 per cent. But Windows Phone more than doubled its market share, while Blackberry sales dropped from 5.2 per cent this time last year to just 1.8 per cent for the current quarter.

"The winner of this quarter is Microsoft which grew 123 percent. Microsoft announced the intent to acquire Nokia's devices and services business, which we believe will unify effort and help drive appeal of Windows ecosystem," said Gupta.

Overall, Gartner estimates the world bought 455.6 million mobile phones in the third quarter of the year, and 55 per cent were of the smart variety. Feature phone sales are still rising, but at a relatively anemic rate in comparison, and that is going to get worse Gartner warns.

"Sales of feature phones continued to decline and the decrease was more pronounced in markets where the average selling price (ASP) for feature phones was much closer to the ASP affordable smartphones," said Gupta. "In markets such as China and Latin America, demand for feature phones fell significantly as users rushed to replace their old models with smartphones." ®

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