Smartphones drive surge in mobile device sales

Consumers bought more than 1.6bn mobile devices last year, up 32% on 2009, according to market analyst Gartner.

Consumers bought more than 1.6bn mobile devices last year, up 32% on 2009, according to market analyst Gartner.

The increase was driven by a switch to smartphones, where sales were up 72% to take 19% of the total mobile communications market.

Gartner's figures reveal the growing importance of the "ecosystem" of device maker plus application developers plus distribution channels.

Although Nokia remained the top seller by units, Apple and Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM) took fourth and fifth positions among device makers, and Android skyrocketed into second place for operating systems.

Gartner research vice-president Carolina Milanesi said, "Nokia and LG saw their market share erode as they came under increasing pressure to refine their smartphone strategies." Nokia is expected to announce its new direction on 11 February.

The market was plagued by continuing shortages of camera modules, touch screen controllers, and active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) screens. Milanesi said this would not improve until later in the year. This was because of demand from other fast-growing markets such as media tablets, she said.

Sales of Apple devices, up almost 90%, were nevertheless just 10% of those of Nokia. Gartner analysts said they expected Apple to maintain its high margin pricing, leaving Android and others to attack the mass market.

Close to half of smartphone sales were to Western Europe and North America, where network speeds allowed full use of the devices' functions. But competition was expected to intensify, said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Android overtook Nokia's Symbian unit sales in 4Q2010 as its sales skyrocketed almost nine-fold. However, the European Commission has sponsored a research programme to use Symbian for embedded devices such as smart meters. If that bears fruit, the number of Symbian devices in the market could dwarf the voice handset market.

 

 

Table 1
Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users in 2010 (Thousands of Units)
Company 2010 Units 2010 Market Share (%) 2009 Units 2009 Market Share (%)
Nokia 461,318.2 28.9 440,881.6 36.4
Samsung 281,065.8 17.6 235,772.0 19.5
LG Electronics 114,154.6 7.1 121,972.1 10.1
Research In Motion 47,451.6 3.0 34,346.6 2.8
Apple 46,598.3 2.9 24,889.7 2.1
Sony Ericsson 41,819.2 2.6 54,956.6 4.5
Motorola 38,553.7 2.4 58,475.2 4.8
ZTE 28,768.7 1.8 16,026.1 1.3
HTC 24,688.4 1.5 10,811.9 0.9
Huawei 23,814.7 1.5 13,490.6 1.1
Others 488,569.3 30.6 199,617.2 16.5
Total 1,596,802.4 100.0 1,211,239.6 100.0
Source: Gartner (February 2011)

 

 

Table 2
Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2010 (Thousands of Units)
Company 2010 Units 2010 Market Share (%) 2009 Units 2009 Market Share (%)
Symbian 111,576.7 37.6 80,878.3 46.9
Android 67,224.5 22.7 6,798.4 3.9
Research In Motion 47,451.6 16.0 34,346.6 19.9
iOS 46,598.3 15.7 24,889.7 14.4
Microsoft 12,378.2 4.2 15,031.0 8.7
Other Oss 11417.4 3.8 10432.1 6.1
Total 296,646.6 100.0 172,376.1 100.0
Source: Gartner (February 2011)

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