According to Gartner’s latest market data, end-user sales of smartphones grew 85 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2011. Google’s Android platform led the pack with a whopping 400 percent increase.
Overall, end-user sales of “mobile communication devices” in the first quarter of this year grew 19 percent over year-on-year, to 427.8 million units. The smartphone numbers would have been even higher, but for the announcement of “a number of high-profile devices during the first quarter of 2011 that would not ship until the second quarter of 2011,” according to Gartner research analyst Roberta Cozza, who “believes some consumers delayed their purchases to wait for these models.”
Q1 2011 Smartphone OS Market Share
(Worldwide sales to end users, in 1000s of units)
|Platform||1Q-11 units||1Q-11 share (%)||1Q-10 units||1Q-10 share (%)|
|Research In Motion||13,004.0||12.9||10,752.5||19.7|
Samsung turned in its best first quarter showing ever, according to Gartner. “The shift to higher end smartphones, such as the Galaxy line, led to an increase in ASPs,” Cozza notes. Samsung also announced a number of new products during the quarter, Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablets (10.1 and 8.9).
For its part, Apple sold 16.9 million units to end-users worldwide, doubling its iPhone Q1 of 2010 numbers. “This strong performance helped Apple consolidate its position as the fourth largest brand in the mobile communication market overall,” says Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi. “Considering the higher than average price of the iPhone this is a remarkable result and highlights the impact that a strong aspirational brand can have on a product.”
Another strong performance was turned in by HTC, whose sale of 9.3 million units moved it into the number-7 position worldwide. Additionally the company became the number-2 U.S. market smartphone supplier during the quarter, surpassing RIM.
HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel, and ZTE all announced new mid-tier smartphones, mostly based on Android, which will ship later this year, according to Gartner’s report.
Although “Android and Apple’s iOS continued to dominate the smartphone operating system (OS) wars … the big news in the first quarter of 2011 was Nokia’s strategic alliance with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7, and the retirement of Symbian.” While sales of Windows Phone devices were only around 1.6 million units in Q1, Gartner expects Nokia’s support to accelerate Microsoft momentum in the market.
Nokia’s move away from Symbian, meanwhile, is expected to “precipitate a competitors rush to capture Symbian’s market share in the mid-tier,” says Cozza.
RIM, too, will be making an OS switch. The company recently acquired QNX Software Systems and plans to transition its BlackBerry products to the QNX platform next year. “This should make its smartphones more competitive in graphics, performance, and touch, and unify RIM’s tablet and smartphone user experience,” notes Cozza.
Gartner reckons the ecosystem focus inherent in the smartphone market to be a critical success factor for mobile communication device manufacturers. “Every time a user downloads a native app to their smartphone or puts their data into a platform’s cloud service, they are committing to a particular ecosystem and reducing the chances of switching to a new platform. This is a clear advantage for the current stronger ecosystem owners Apple and Google,” says Cozza. “As well as putting their devices in the context of a broader ecosystem, manufacturers must start to see their smartphones as part of a computing continuum.”
For information on purchasing the complete study, visit Gartner’s website.