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Smartphones made up 24pc of total worldwide handset volumes in Q4: study

January 28, 2011

Verizon used to position the Droid lineup as smartphones to compete with the iPhone

Worldwide smartphone shipments increased 75 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, reaching a record 94 million units shipped and underscoring a tremendous opportunity for brands and marketers.

According to a study by strategy analytics, Apple maintained its small lead over Research In Motion in the fourth quarter and Nokia continued on its streak of underperforming. Overall smartphone shipments have almost doubled since 2008.

“The smartphone market continues to be the mobile industry’s most important sub-category for mobile phones and mobile computing, because of its rapid growth, innovative services and its multi-billion-dollar revenue streams,” said Neil Mawston, Milton Keynes, England-based director of global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.

“The most surprising finding is Nokia’s sharp decline in global smartphone marketshare during the fourth quarter of 2010,” he said. “It slipped from 39 percent to 30 percent in a year.

“Nokia has been under pressure for the past three years, but this is one of its largest drops yet in a single quarter.”

Breakdown of shipments
Nokia shipped 28.3 million smartphones worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 36 percent from 20.8 million units a year earlier. Nokia’s global smartphone marketshare fell to 30 percent, down from 39 percent the year before.

Nokia’s marketshare decline was caused by a combination of mild component shortages, increased competition from Apple and Android vendors and a lack of presence in the United States market.

Regardless, Nokia is still the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, selling 100 million units in 2010, but it urgently needs to deliver enhanced models to strike back and offer operators and developers a compelling alternative to Apple and the surging wave of Android players, per Strategy Analytics.

Apple shipped 16.2 million iPhones worldwide in the fourth quarter, almost doubling from 8.7 million units a year earlier.

The handset maker benefitted from strong carrier subsidies and co-marketing, enabling its global share to reach 17 percent during the quarter.

However, Apple’s marketshare gains slowed considerably last year due to tougher competition from Android players such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC.

Moving into 2011, the battle with Android partners will intensify. The CDMA version of the iPhone will soon go live at Verizon Wireless in and provide increased competition for Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC.

RIM shipped 14.6 million smartphones worldwide during the quarter, up 36 percent from 10.7 million units a year earlier.

Smartphone market
Smartphones made up 24 percent of total worldwide handset volumes during the quarter.

Sales were driven heavily by the Apple iPhone and by several major Android players expanding their portfolios such as Samsung, HTC and Motorola.

For the full year, global smartphone shipments reached 293 million units in 2010, almost doubling from 151 million units in 2008 and 175 million in 2009, highlighting the rapid growth of this high-value segment.

The big 3 hardware vendors of Nokia, RIM and Apple were less dominant in 2010, as their combined global marketshare slipped from 73 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010, mostly due to a spike in Android vendors such as Samsung, Motorola, HTC and Sony Ericsson.

Android was the star platform of 2010, as it gave iOS4 some much-needed competition and outgrew all major rival operating systems worldwide.

“Among the big thee hardware players, Apple was the star performer, outgrowing RIM and Nokia worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2010, due to a perceived superior user-experience, large operator subsidies and a rapidly expanding distribution network,” Mr. Mawston said.

“Among the big four platforms, Android was the star performer worldwide in the last quarter of 2010, outgrowing Symbian, BlackBerry and Apple, due to strong support from multiple operators and multiple vendors in multiple regions worldwide who like Android’s perceived low cost, rich user-experience and a compelling suite of media services supported by the famous Google brand,” he said.

Dan Butcher reported for this story.

Final Take
Strategy Analytics’ Susan Welsh de Grimaldo


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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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