eWEEK at 30: Glory Days of Nokia, Motorola, BlackBerry Ended With iPhone

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-01-25 Print this article Print

Nokia still dominated the market at that point—by 2005 it had already sold its billionth phone—with a 49 percent share. RIM, in second place, had 10 percent, and HTC had 4 percent.

By the time Apple introduced its second-generation iPhone in 2008, it had reached a deal with AT&T, which with a two-year service contract dropped the price to $199. This further helped Apple shoot past stagnant HTC in the rankings and claim 13 percent of the market. RIM, meanwhile, had grown its share to 16 percent and Nokia was down to 42 percent.

BlackBerry's high point was 2009. During the third quarter, it surged passed the one-fifth mark to grab a 20.7 percent share of the worldwide mobile OS market, as Apple's iOS rose to 17 percent. Google's Android was new on the scene and, thanks to Samsung and LG Electronics, it managed a 3.5 percent share.

By 2010, Apple was outselling BlackBerry, as iOS climbed to 16.7 percent, BlackBerry dropped to 14.8 percent and Android shot past them both, claiming a 25.5 percent share of the worldwide market. Nokia's Symbian still held first place, though it was down to 37 percent during the third quarter of 2010, from 45 percent a year earlier, and its decline was destined to continue precipitously

During 2013's third quarter, Samsung—its bet on Android having fully paid off—led the worldwide market with a 32 percent share, and Apple followed with 12 percent. Rounding out the market, BlackBerry managed a 2 percent share, while Symbian, abandoned by Nokia in 2011, dribbled down to 0.2 percent.

Google purchased an ailing Motorola in 2011 and has since declined to share the number of phones it has sold. It's rumored that the pair's first phone together, the Moto X, sold only 500,000 during the first quarter after its release.

Can Apple, Samsung Avoid the Pattern?

"Motorola got complacent, and they didn't innovate fast enough. It's the same story as BlackBerry. They were the first truly innovative device in the market, and they set the standard for years, but they were out-innovated. Nokia—and I don't mean to sound cruel—was fat, dumb and happy, and they didn't see the market shifting. Or if they did, they didn't respond quickly enough," said Gold. "Time is not anybody's friend in this market."

Apple and Samsung, the companies now with the most to lose, should be fully cognizant of the lessons the fate of their predecessors offer. Whether they break the natural cycle remains to be seen.

"Once you catch the attention of consumers, that's when you have to innovate," said Hyers. "Samsung has moved into the wearables market because they realized that if they stand still, they'll be eclipsed."

Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, the man who led Samsung's takeover of the smartphone market and turned his father's company into a "$288 billion behemoth," The New York Times reported Dec. 14, 2013, had a message for his employees this year: "You must do better."

The article added, "At other companies, congratulations might have been in order."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.


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