Android, RIM, Apple Pushed Best Smartphone Quarter Since 2006

RIM, Apple and Google's Android OS helped the worldwide smartphone market post its strongest increase since 2006, according to a new report from Gartner. Still, the top five, noted Gartner, should keep an eye on rising young vendors.

Smartphone-focused phone vendors such as BlackBerry-maker RIM and iPhone-maker Apple helped to drive up worldwide mobile phone sales, and smartphone sales in particular, Gartner announced May 19.
While worldwide mobile phone sales totaled 314.7 million units in the first quarter of 2010 - a growth of 17 percent from a year ago - smartphone sales increased by 48.7 percent from first-quarter 2009, totaling 54.3 million units.
Smartphones accounted for 17.3 percent of all handset sales during the quarter, up 13.6 percent from a year ago.
"In the first quarter of 2010, smartphone sales to end users saw their strongest year-on-year increase since 2006," Gartner Vice President Carolina Milanesi said said in a statement. "This quarter saw RIM, a pure smartphone player, make its debut in the top five mobile devices manufacturers, and saw Apple increase its market share by 1.2 percentage points."
RIM (Research In Motion) shipped 10.5 million units in the first quarter, up from the 7.2 million in the first quarter of 2009, when its market-share rating ranked behind Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
First-place Nokia shipped 110.1 million units during the quarter. Samsung, in second place, shipped 64.9 million units, followed by a number-three LG Electronics with 27.2 million units. Sony Ericsson followed RIM, with a fifth-position tally of 9.9 million units, and Motorola - down from its number-four position in early 2009 - ranked sixth during the first quarter, with sales of 9.6 million units.
Apple, while ranked seventh worldwide, posted its best quarter yet, with sales of 8.4 million units, a 112.2 percent increase from its 3.9 million units a year ago.
"[Apple's growth] came partly from new communication service providers in established markets, such as the UK, and stronger sales in new markets such as China and South Korea," Milanesi said. "The second quarter of 2010 will be a very important one for Apple. We expect that Apple will present its new iPhone in June during its Worldwide Developer Conference, which will be the first to feature the latest release of the iPhone OS that includes welcome improvements for developers and users, such as multitasking."
iPhone OS competitor Android also put in a phenomenal showing during the quarter, posting a 707 percent year-on-year increase in North America. (During a May 13 shareholders meeting, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that in just a year, the company went from one device in one country to 34 devices with 50 carriers in 49 countries and 19 languages.)
"In the smartphone OS market, Android and Apple were the winners in the first quarter of 2010," said the Gartner report. "Android moved to the No. 4 position displacing Microsoft Windows Mobile for the first time. Both Android and Apple were the only two [operating system] vendors among the top five to increase market share year-on-year. Symbian remained in the No. 1 position but continued to lose as Nokia remains weak in the high-end portfolio."
Sales were also considerable lower in the mobile handset vendor rankings, Gartner reported, which should have the top-five taking note. Hong Kong-based G-Five made its debut in the top 10, grabbing 1.4 percent of the market with sales of 4.3 million handsets. The rise of white-box manufacturers in Asia additionally boosted the "others" category to 19.2 percent market share, up from 16.5 percent a year earlier.
"This is having a profound effect on the top five mobile handset manufacturers' combined share that dropped from 73.3 in the first quarter of 2009 to 70.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010," Milanesi said in the report.
The most successful vendors, Milanesi made clear, are those that control their operating system, hardware and services.