Apple was the top smartphone vendor during the fourth quarter of 2011, and the third-largest overall phone vendor worldwide. However, lesser-known ZTE and Huawei are on the rise, according to Garter.
Apple became the third largest mobile phone vendor in the
world during the fourth quarter of 2011, as well as the top-selling smartphone
vendor during those three months, Gartner
have already shared fourth-quarter results, which also show healthy
returns for Apple and its iPhone franchise.
Smartphone sales grew 47.3 percent during the quarter, to
149 million units, bringing the annual total to 472 million devices an
increase of 58 percent from 2010. Smartphones, with big thanks to the iPhone,
accounted for 31 percent of all device sales, according to Gartners report.
"In Western Europe the spike in
iPhone sales in the fourth quarter saved the overall smartphone market after
two consecutive quarters of slow sales," Garter analyst Roberta Cozza
wrote in the report. Western Europe and North America, she added, were Apple's
strongest markets during the quarter.
Nokia and Samsung, respectively, led the market. However, asides from Apple, the big stories of growth belonged to Chinese
vendors ZTE and Huawei, which have been pushing to make their names better
known. After Apple, these two companies were the fastest-growing vendors during
"These vendors expanded their
market reach and kept on improving the user experience of their Android
devices," Cozza wrote.
Gartner ranked ZTE fourth during the
quarter, with phone shipments of 18.9 million units, compared to 9 million a
year earlier. LG Electronics followed in fifth place, with shipments at 16.9
million units nearly half of what it sold a year earlier and Huawei held
sixth position, ahead of Research In Motion, with units rising from 7.8 million
units in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 14 million units.
Gartner attributed ZTE's considerable success
71 percent growth sequentially to strong consumer interest in
low-cost smartphones. Huawei, it added, pulled ahead of LG in the Android
marketplace, thanks to its solid smartphone sales stemming from the decision to
brand its devices under its own name. It has also, said Gartner,
"continued to expand its portfolio into higher tiers as its tries to build
more iconic products."
Research firm IDC, however, instead
gave fourth billing to LG, finding it to have shipped 17.7 million devices to
ZTE's 17.1 million still enough for it to have posted the third-highest
year-over-year growth, at 8.9 percent, after Apple and Samsung's 128 percent
and 20.9 percent, respectively.
"Long known as a purveyor of
entry-level devices, ZTE's smartphones increasingly moved into the
spotlight," according to IDCs 1 report. "Key models for the quarter
included its popular mass-market Blade and mid-range Skate Android smartphones,
and recently the company added its first Windows Phone-powered smartphone, the
Like IDC, Gartner found Nokia and Samsung
to have led in mobile device sales during both the quarter and full year 2011,
though by slightly more modest totals than IDC came to. By Gartner's figures,
Nokia shipped 111.7 million units, down from 122.3 million a year ago, while
Samsung rose to 92.7 million units, from 79.2 million.
Apple's strong shipments also helped it to
take back some mobile operating system market share, though its iOS finished the quarter with a 23.8 percent share,
to Android's 50.9 percent thanks to sales of Samsung handsets, more than
Moving forward, however, with Apple fans
sated for now with iOS 5, overall sales are expected to slow. Gartner expects
the overall market to grow 7 percent in 2012, while the smartphone market
increases by approximately 39 percent.
During the next few quarters, until the
mayhem for a new iPhone begins again, Gartner expects Apple's OS share to drop.