Upcoming iPhone has smartphone buyers holding off, report says

Apple and Samsung are fighting it out in the courtroom this week, but a report from tech research firm Gartner delivered a snapshot of the real battlefront — the consumer market.

Research analyst Anshul Gupta said in a release that consumers waiting on new smartphone models have amplified the effects of a weaker economy.

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Samsung extended its lead as the world’s top smartphone maker in the last quarter, up 29.5 percent from the first three months of the year, the firm found. On the other hand, sales of Apple’s iPhone — while up 47.4 percent from the same time last year — fell 12.6 percent from the previous quarter.

The statistics aren’t that surprising. Samsung had a couple of high-profile product launches, such as the Galaxy S III, while Apple remained quiet to work on its next iPhone. Android, as expected, also extended its lead over Apple in the past three months. It now accounts for 43.4 percent of the smartphone market as compared with the 18.2 percent held by Apple’s iOS operating system.

But Apple’s drop in sales may not be much of a problem. Buyers, Gupta said, are essentially holding their collective breath until the new iPhone comes out.

Apple may have another weaker quarter ahead, the firm said, but analysts expect a strong holiday quarter this year as iPhone 4 users upgrade their phones. It’s also worth mentioning that a weak quarter for Apple — like the one that just passed — still meant that 26 million iPhones were sold, growing 28 percent over the same period last year.

The mobile market overall dropped 2.3 percent, while smartphone sales grew 42.7 percent in the last quarter, down from 58 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Samsung took the overall mobile phone lead from Nokia in April. Despite the much-touted launch of the Nokia Lumia, the Finnish company has yet to see an unqualified smartphone hit. The company will be rolling out more Windows Phones as part of its partnership with Microsoft, but it will be an uphill battle to overcome Samsung again.

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