Booming European sales of mobile devices in Q1


20 Apr 2004

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Europe’s mobile device market grew by 62pc in the first quarter of the year from the same period in 2003, according to new research estimates from Canalys. A total of 2,470,440 devices were shipped throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa during the first three months of the year, up from 1,526,800 in the same period last year.

Nokia has retained overall leadership in the sector, with a total market share of 48.4pc. Its shipments grew by 89pc in the quarter. HP followed in second place with 10.2pc share (56pc growth), narrowly beating palmOne which recorded 10.1pc share and just 2pc growth. This is the third consecutive quarter where the IT giant has outshipped palmOne, whose shipment figures include Handspring branded devices.

Sony Ericsson’s growth was flat but it held fourth place in the market with 7.2pc share. Siemens notched up major growth compared with the same period a year ago but its market share is 3.4pc. Other manufacturers accounted for 20.9pc of the market.

Canalys also broke down its figures into two distinct categories. Data-centric devices, comprising handheld systems and wireless handhelds, had a healthy quarter with growth of 33pc. HP beat palmOne to first place, but the list was notable for RIM’s occupation of third place. Its BlackBerry mobile email system took 8pc of the market on the back of 18 months of continual improvement in EMEA, Canalys said. Shipments were up 1058pc on the same quarter in 2003.

In a briefing note, the analyst firm said that RIM’s strong security message helped it leapfrog other handheld vendors such as Toshiba and Dell. The latter pair’s significant enterprise client base and track record in notebook PCs have to date failed to differentiate themselves and make an impact in the corporate mobile device sector.

“RIM has made great progress in EMEA over the past year and a half,” said Chris Jones, Canalys director and senior analyst. “Lower unit prices, the move to colour displays and voice integration all helped put it in a position where it was ready to take advantage of the return of corporate spending when it came. The increasing awareness among business buyers of the need for security in mobile data solutions plays to its strengths as well. Crucially, it has also expanded its relationships with operators and invested in helping them sell solutions to business customers. Other vendors planning to sell wireless handhelds through the operators should learn from its example.”

The voice-centric segment, including smart phones and feature phones, continued to perform well. Shipments were up 83pc on Q1 2003. The increase did not come close to the stellar growth of the last quarter, according to Canalys, although this may be a result of the fourth quarter’s all-important Christmas buying season.

The top three were Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Siemens, with the latter taking third place in the market for the first time thanks to higher volumes of its SX1 smart phone. All three manufacturers use the Symbian operating system, but Canalys observed that Q1 saw Microsoft reach its highest share yet (7.8pc) of the voice-centric market.

For the entire mobile device market, the Symbian operating system enjoys a clear lead in first place, loaded on 1,475,720 units in Q1, for a total share of 59.7pc and 83pc growth. Microsoft’s OS was found on 612,430 devices – a 24.8pc share and 64pc growth. PalmSource (292,510 units) has 11.8pc of the market but registered scant growth of 3pc.

By Gordon Smith