How well did mobile phone sales to end users do in 2012? According to a recent Gartner (NYSE: IT) report, sales cooled off a bit last year. Gartner reported that worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 1.75 billion units in 2012, a 1.7 percent decline from 2011 sales. How did the Android and iOS operating systems fit into the sales? We'll let you know.

Smartphones continued to drive overall mobile phone sales last year. Sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 reached 207.7 million units, up 38.3 percent from the same period the previous year. Apple and Samsung together raised their worldwide smartphone market share in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 52 percent from 46.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012. Samsung, however, ended the year in the number one position, in both worldwide smartphone sales and overall mobile phone sales.

Gartner Principal Research Analyst Anshul Gupta said brand was as important as products for the smartphone leaders . "The success of Apple and Samsung is based on the strength of their brands as much as their actual products," Gupta said. "Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers, who, in a tough economic environment, go for cheaper products over brand."

Top Smartphone Operating Systems
In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android captured more than 50 percent of the OS market, leaving Apple's iOS with a smaller percentage of the market. While Android grew 87.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, RIM declined 44.4 percent in the same period. With Android and iOS so far ahead of the game, what will happen to the other competing operating systems?

Gupta weighed in on the debate. "2013 will be the year of the rise of the third ecosystem as the battle between the new BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone intensifies," he said. "As carriers and vendors feel the pressure of the strong Android’s growth, alternative operating systems such as Tizen, Firefox, Ubuntu and Jolla will try and carve out an opportunity by positioning themselves as profitable alternatives."

Back in January, Gartner provided some insights into what goes on in the mind of these executives. The research company surveyed more than 2,000 CIOs to provide a list of top technology priorities for 2013.