Global smartphone sales surge as mobile phone shipments plummet

Chicago (IL) – Worldwide smartphone sales have reportedly surged as mobile phone shipments marked a notable decline. According to Gartner, global mobile phone sales plummeted 8.6 percent from Q1 2008 to 269.1 million units in Q1 2009. In sharp contrast, smartphone shipments rose 12.7 per cent to surpass 36.4 million units.

Nokia maintained its lead in the mobile phone sector with a respectable 36.2 percent market share. Second place Samsung managed to improve its position with sales of 51.4 million units, while Motorola recaptured fourth place by overtaking Sony Ericsson. LG increased its market share by 1.9 percentage points via sales of 26.5 million units.

Gartner attributed Samsung’s success to “a good product mix” of Omnia, Tocco and Pixon handsets. Similarly, LG’s market share increase was linked to a “very strong portfolio of touchscreen, messaging and imaging devices.” However, Gartner cautioned that LG’s “biggest challenge” was to “become competitive in the smartphone segment.”

Finally, Motorola’s comeback was tempered by Gartner questioning the company’s ability to differentiate its offerings “when so many players in the mobile device market will be delivering Android-based products at the same time.”

Company

1Q09

 Sales

1Q09 Market

 Share (%)

1Q08

 Sales

1Q08 Market

 Share (%)

Nokia

97,398.2

36.2

115,191.8

39.1

Samsung

51,385.4

19.1

42,396.5

14.4

LG

26,546.9

9.9

23,645.8

8.0

Motorola

16,587.3

6.2

29,884.7

10.2

Sony Ericsson

14,470.3

5.4

22,061.0

7.5

Others

62,732.0

23.4

61,103.20

20.8

TOTAL

269,120.1

100.0

294,283.0

100.0

Note* This table includes iDEN shipments, but excludes ODM to OEM shipments.

Note: Totals may not add to 100.0 percent due to rounding.

Source: Gartner (May 2009)

Meanwhile, smartphone sales represented 13.5 percent of all mobile device sales in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 11 percent in the first quarter of 2008. According to Gartner, positive performance by Research In Motion (RIM) and Apple demonstrated that services and applications were  “instrumental” to smartphones’ success.

“Much of the smartphone growth during the first quarter of 2009 was driven by touchscreen products, both in midtier and high-end devices,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “‘Touch for the sake of touch’ was enough of a driver in the midtier space, but tighter integration with applications and services around music, mobile e-mail, and Internet browsing made the difference at the high end of the market.”

Indeed, Symbian accounted for 49.3 per cent of worldwide smartphone operating systems (OS) market share, while RIM’s smartphone OS market share reached 19.9 per cent. The iPhone OS accounted for just 10.8 per cent of the market, with a significantly improved share which hovered at a mere 5.3 in Q1 2008.

Company

1Q09

 Sales

1Q09 Market

 Share (%)

1Q08

 Sales

1Q08 Market

 Share (%)

Nokia

14,991.2

41.2

14,588.6

45.1

Research In Motion

7,233.6

19.9

4,311.8

13.3

Apple

3,938.8

10.8

1,725.3

5.3

HTC

1,957.3

5.4

1,276.9

4.0

Fujitsu

1,387.0

3.8

1,317.5

4.1

Others

6,896.4

18.8

9,094.8

28.1

TOTAL

36,404.4

100.0

32,314.9

100.0

Note: For HTC, Gartner counts only the company’s own-branded devices including the G1.

Note Totals may not add to 100.0 percent due to rounding.

Source: Gartner (May 2009)

Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner, explained that vendors would likely shift their focus to smartphones and improved user interfaces during 2009.

“Device vendors will focus increasingly on smartphones, improved user interfaces and services to differentiate themselves and fuel consumer demand,” noted Milanesi. “We maintain our view that sales to users will decrease by about 4 per cent for 2009 compared with 2008, while sell-in will slow to around a 10 percent decrease.”

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