Apple Takes U.S. Smartphone Market Lead

Nov. 15, 2010

Berkshire, U.K.: The worldwide smartphone market grew 95% in the third quarter this year—a total of 80.9 million shipped units—over the same quarter in 2009. Nokia retained the top spot among manufacturers, though with a smaller 33% share of the market. According to U.S. industry analysts Canalys, Apple jumped to a 17% share worldwide.

In the U.S., the world’s largest smartphone market, Apple ousted RIM from the top spot. Led by the iPhone, it seized a 26% share. RIM also launched its latest-generation smartphone, the Torch, though it only saw half a quarter’s shipments in the U.S. Furthermore, the plethora of smartphones running the Open Handset Alliance’s (OHA’s) Android platform meant that Canalys’ final published country-level data shows that it took the lead among operating systems (OSs) in the U.S. with a 44% share.

In addition to the positive picture in the U.S., Canalys’ country-level smartphone research highlights the importance of, and differences in, “emerging markets.” For instance, in what are now being called the “BRIIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, and mainland China), smartphone shipments increased by 112% year-on-year, faster than the market overall. On an individual basis, each country saw strong growth.

Nokia was the leading vendor in all five BRIIC markets in Q3 2010, benefiting from its global reach and channel relationships. In India, for example, Nokia held a 65% share of the smartphone market, and grew its shipments 208% year-on-year to 1.1 million units. The combination of affordable smartphones and its Ovi suite, which offers e-mail and messaging, navigation, and music services, continues to prove popular in India with products such as the 523x series of smartphones.

Despite ongoing discussions with the Indian authorities over the monitoring of encrypted communications, RIM’s business also grew in the country, holding an 18% share in Q3 2010, with volumes up 412%. “For RIM, aggressively priced BlackBerry smartphones, such as the Curve 8520, have helped drive volumes across emerging markets, aided by its engagement in substantial marketing activities. It remains the number one smartphone vendor in Latin America, where it holds nearly 40% of the market,” says Chris Jones, principal analyst for Canalys. “Where smartphone growth in mature Western markets has been driven by high-end products, in many emerging markets, where disposable income is more constrained, growth is being driven by good-quality products that can attract mass-market volumes in the mid-tier of the market. To succeed in these markets, vendors need to offer smartphones that provide consumers with the same ability to engage with the locally relevant mobile applications and connected services that consumers want to use, but at a more locally accessible price.”

Once again this quarter, devices running the Android platform proved the greatest driver of growth in the worldwide market. Statistics show a massive 1309% boost year-on-year, from 1.4 million in Q3 2009 to more than 20.0 million units in Q3 2010, forming a quarter of the market share.

Says Pete Cunningham, senior analyst for Canalys, “With Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson all delivering large numbers of Android devices, and with focused efforts from many other vendors, such as LG, Huawei, and Acer, yielding promising volumes, the platform continues to gather momentum in markets around the world.

“Android has been well received by the market and in some geographies, it is becoming a sought-after consumer brand. It has rapidly become the platform to watch, and its growing volumes will help to entice developers, ensuring consumers have access to an increasingly rich and vibrant mobile content and application ecosystem. Vendors are now delivering Android devices across a broad range of price points, from high-end products such as the Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire, to aggressively priced devices such as the LG GT540 Optimus or the Huawei built Vodafone 845, ensuring that Android devices are available and affordable to consumers on almost any budget.”

Driven by Nokia, the Symbian Foundation retained its position as the leading smartphone OS vendor worldwide. It remains the number one OS vendor in 37 of the 56 named countries tracked by Canalys because of Nokia’s dominance. Moreover, in Japan, its position is supported by Fujitsu and Sharp.

The Symbian Foundation has recently been in a state of flux, with a streamlining of the workforce and the departure of its executive director, Lee Williams, along with the withdrawal of support from Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Still, it has continued backing from the Japanese vendors and dedication from Nokia to its ongoing development. The launch of Nokia’s new range of Symbian devices, particularly the N8, should give a boost to its holiday season shipments. Also, the outlook into 2011 remains positive as Nokia aims to push Symbian devices further into the mid-tier of the market to attract mass-market volumes.


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