Nokia, RIM Controlled a Slowing Smartphone Market in 2008

A new Gartner study shows that overall smartphone sales numbers increased from 2007 to 2008, though by small margins - a fact attributed to the weakened economy during the fourth quarter and fewer compelling products. Nokia still controlled the No. 1 position in the worldwide smartphone market, although it lost market share. Still, even with a poor global economy, Apple, HTC, RIM and Samsung all saw volumes and shares rise.

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In general, 2008 was a good year for operators and smartphone vendors, which all grew their portfolios, says a new release from Gartner.
"Samsung, RIM, HTC and Apple saw their volumes and shares increase during 2008, thanks to their ability to offer compelling device experiences and touch interfaces," said research director Roberta Cozz in a statement on the data.
The third quarter of 2008 was strong for worldwide smartphone sales, which then slowed into the four quarter, with sales to end users reaching 38.1 million units - a growth of 3.7 percent over the fourth quarter of 2007.
As a portion of all mobile devices sales, smartphones held 12 percent of the pie in the fourth quarter of 2008, up from 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. Also within this time, Samsung beat out Sharp to join the top five list for the first time - a market share growth of 138 percent.
As the top five vendors in the fourth quarter of 2008, Nokia finished with 40.8 percent of the market share (down from 50.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007) and similarly RIM finished with 19.5 percent (up from 10.9 percent); Apple had 10.7 percent market share (up from 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007), HTC had 4.3 percent (up from 3.7) and Samsung came into the top five with 4.2 percent market share for the fourth quarter of 2008, up from 1.8 in the same quarter of 2007.
Digging more deeply into the numbers, Gartner states that Apple built an inventory of iPhones in the third quarter that it wasn't able to unload in the fourth quarter.
Users, it seems, were looking at newly introduced products such as the BlackBerry Storm, the T-Mobile G1 (the first on Google's Android platform) and several new Samsung touch screen products.
Gartner additionally reported that Symbian led the top five mobile operating systems in the fourth quarter of 2008, with 47.1 percent market share (down from 62.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007), and following behind it were: RIM, with 19.5 percent market share (up from 10.9 percent), Microsoft Windows Mobile with 12.4 percent (up from 11.9), Mac OS X with 10.7 percent market share (up from 5.2 percent) and Linux at 8.4 percent market share in 2008, up from 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.