100.9m smartphones sold in Q4 – Nokia and Apple lead

8 Feb 2011

During the fourth quarter of 2010, some 100.9m smartphone devices were sold worldwide. While Nokia and Apple hold the greatest market share, the growth of Android helped Samsung grow sales 438pc and HTC grow 258pc in Q4.

According to IDC, vendors shipped a total of 100.9m smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2010, up 87.2pc from the 53.9m smartphones shipped during the previous year.

For the full year, manufacturers shipped 302.6m smartphones worldwide, up 74.4pc from the 173.5m smartphones shipped in 2009.

Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team.

“It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors’ smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian. Although Symbian has the backing of market leader Nokia, Android has multiple vendors, including HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung and a growing list of companies deploying Android on their devices,” Llamas said.

Adding to the competitive landscape is the entrance of two refreshed operating systems, Symbian 3 and Windows Phone 7.

“In their first quarter of commercial availability, both Symbian 3 and Windows Phone 7 ramped up quickly, just in time for the holidays.

“By the end of the quarter, Nokia had shipped 5m Symbian 3 units while Windows Phone 7 vendors shipped more than 1.5m units. Now, with the holiday quarter over, both platforms will need to sustain this initial growth in the quarters to come,” Llamas added.

Market performance of smartphone vendors

During the quarter, Nokia shipped 28.3m smartphones, up 36.1pc on last year, giving it a total 28.3pc share of the global market. Nokia noted the positive progress of its new Symbian3 smartphones during 4Q10: 5m units combined from the N8, C7 and C601 worldwide, a strong showing given their recent introductions to the market.

At the same time, Nokia’s volumes are largely comprised of older devices, while MeeGo-powered devices have yet to arrive on the market. In addition, Nokia continues to struggle in the North America market. The recent cancellation of the X7 smartphone at AT&T highlights Nokia’s challenges and a new device has yet to be revealed.

Apple’s iPhone gained more ground in the worldwide smartphone market, with shipment volume growth coming from Asia/Pacific and Japan. Apple sold 16.2m iPhone devices, up 86.2pc year-on-year, giving the company a 16.2pc market share. In addition, Apple made further inroads into the enterprise market, with more companies adding Apple to their approved smartphone list and increased development of corporate-centred applications. Rumours of an iPhone 5 have begun to heat up the blogosphere, with many expecting a new design and perhaps a mobile wallet.

Research In Motion reached a new shipment volume for a single quarter in Q4, and posted nearly identical year-over-year growth for both the quarter and the year. Research in Motion sold 14.6m BlackBerry smartphones, up 36.4pc and giving it a 14.5cpc market share. Driving growth was stronger interest from outside North America, with several markets posting double-digit gains. Meanwhile, RIM continued to enjoy market leadership in North America, but nonetheless saw mounting challenges from the competition. Popular devices for the quarter included the BlackBerry Torch and the BlackBerry Curve 3G.

Samsung took top honours for having the largest year-over-year improvement for both the quarter and for the year, an accomplishment largely fuelled by its popular Galaxy S series smartphones. Samsung showed the highest rate of growth in the quarter – 438.9pc – with 9.7m smartphones sold and a global market share just shy of 10pc. New Galaxy devices are expected to launch, including the Galaxy Fit, Ace and Mini. Not to be overlooked are Samsung’s bada-branded smartphones, as well as its emerging Windows Phone smartphones, both of which received a warm reception. Samsung has set its sights on growing market share at least 40pc in 2011.

HTC reaped triple-digit growth for both the quarter and for the year, second only to Samsung. HTC sold 8.6m devices, up 258.3pc, giving it a global market share of 8.5pc. Driving its success were its increased brand awareness, market positioning and a series of devices that have resonated well with users and carriers alike. Following its success in 2010, the company known for being ‘quietly brilliant’ aims to become a preferred brand for smartphone users in 2011, while leveraging its scalability to drive business in Asia/Pacific and other emerging markets.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years