Sales of mobile phones fell last year for the first time since 2009. The research company Gartner said that was due to “tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences, and intense market competition”. However smartphone sales – which are dominated by Samsung and Apple – continued to rise and they should account for more than half the handsets sold this year. Of the 1.75 billion phones of all kinds sold last year, Samsung had 22 percent of the market, Nokia 19 percent – the lowest it has ever been – and Apple 7.5 percent. Former market leader Nokia saw its smartphone sales worldwide fall by more than half from the previous year to 39.3 million as it changed operating systems. Apple’s iPhone continues to dominate in the US. Another research company, Strategy Analytics, said in the fourth quarter of last year, Apple overtook Samsung with 34 percent of the handsets sold in the states being iPhones.