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The iPhone 4 has passed RIM and Sony Ericsson in total global sales, thanks to an exceptionally strong quarter.  (Source: Apple)
Apple's record quarter earned it a 1-up in sales rankings

Sales rankings in the mobile sector are a bit confusing.  There's OS market share, there's smartphone OS market share, there's hardware market share, and there's smartphone hardware market share.  To make matters worse, both domestic (U.S.) and global numbers are often tossed around ambiguously.  Still there's some merit to these various numbers, if you make sure to put them in the proper context.

This week market research firm IDC published a new report looking at total global hardware market share. For Apple the report is a nice pat on the back.  The company was in sixth place last year, but this time jumped two spots, passing RIM and the struggling Sony-Ericsson to settle into fourth place. 

That performance comes courtesy to a record 14.1M handsets moved in (calendar) Q3 2010.  Shipments of iPhones almost doubled from 7.4 million units shipped in Q3 2009.  That performance looks particularly impressive given that the iPhone 4 sales were almost certainly effected by a number of quality issuescarrier exclusivity, and tough competition from Google's Android OS.

While RIM was passed, it can take comfort in the fact that it bumped its shipments from 8.5 million units to 12.4 million units, a testament to its continued appeal to business users.  RIM is currently in fifth place in total sales.

The news was decidedly worse for Nokia.  It managed a razor-thin growth from 108.5M units shipped in Q3 2009 to 110.4M units shipped in Q3 2010.  While that was enough to help it hang on to first place in sales, competitors (Apple, RIM) posted larger growth, dropping Nokia's market share from 36.5 percent to 32.4 percent.  

According to IDC, Nokia is primarily losing smartphone market share to Android.  And equally troublesome, it reportedly is losing market share (non-smartphones) to local cell phone makers in developing nations.  The company's struggles are intimately linked to the growing storm in the company's executive ranks.  The company's CEO was recently pressured to resign, and multiple other top executives have departed after the company opted to appoint its first non-Finnish CEO(Nokia is based out of Finland).

Nokia isn't the only phone maker who is struggling, according to the report.  It shows South Korea's LG Electronics posting a drop in shipments from 31.6M handsets to 28.4M in the year-to-year quarterly sales.  LG Electronics, like Nokia, has experienced recent executive turnover.  Amid its floundering phone performance, its CEO stepped down.

Sony-Ericsson similarly struggled.  The company was bumped from the top five for the first time since 2004.  The company does have a chance to recoup some of this ground, as it reportedly is preparing the long-awaited Playstation Phone for a launch early next year.  Powered by Android 3.0, this gaming-centric smart phone is virtually guaranteed to be a sales blockbuster if Sony-Ericsson can avoid the bugs that plagued some of its devices.

To add a bit of context for those puzzled why Android handset makers (e.g. Samsung, Motorola, HTC) aren't more heavily represented on this list, there's a couple reasons for that.  First Android reportedly still trails Apple in total global sales, though it has passed it in U.S. sales.  Given Android's faster growth rate it seems a matter of time before it passes Apple in total global sales. 

More importantly, though, Android's market share is fractured between several handset makers, each of which move anywhere from a couple million handsets to several million handsets a quarter.  Most of these makers haven't reached the top five in global sales -- yet -- because traditional cell phone sales continue to dominate, and Apple and RIM's sales still surpass those of any single Android-exclusive OEM.  Granted LG Electronics does make Android handsets, so Google's OS wasn't entirely unrepresented on the list.  But LG electronics' Android devices have been outsold by HTC and Motorola, so this list fails to give full perspective on the smartphone landscape.

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RE: there you go folks
By michael2k on 10/29/2010 3:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Most people who can afford an iPhone aren't going to have an IQ below 70.

RE: there you go folks
By captainobvious on 10/29/2010 4:08:02 PM , Rating: 3
Most people who can afford an iPhone aren't going to have an IQ below 70.

No, they have a special kind of mental deficiency that afflicts them whenever they see a shiny metallic case with apples printed on it. Or when a crazy old old man dressed in jeans and a black turtle neck tells them to buy his latest "magical" iJunk.

At that point their IQ sharply drops from their standard level to about 10 and they, befuddled, open their wallets and discover themselves filled with a strange sense of joy and belonging, oblivious to the fact that their new device is weighed down with restrictions, has a screen that is more likely to shatter than its competitors', and can't properly function as a phone due to the fact that its antenna was improperly designed to make it thinner and shinier.

RE: there you go folks
By NanoTube1 on 10/29/2010 5:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yoooouuuuuu WINDOWZ FANBOYZ!! I have an iPhone and I am proud of it!

*running away from the dailytech mob*

RE: there you go folks
By Donkey2008 on 10/29/2010 5:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Here we go again. Dailytech Android fanboy rant #4,362, which shatters the previous record for inferiority-complex-based rants held by Apple fanboys at 3,873.

In the long-term category, Nvidia fanboys still hold the lifetime record with over 15,560 rants since 1999 stating that "ATI drivers suck".

Somewhat disappointing is that BlackBerry fanboy rants regarding "the Storm will pwn the iPhone" has been stuck at 1 for 3 years straight.

RE: there you go folks
By michael2k on 10/29/2010 7:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
It's called gadget lust, and evidently Anand suffers from it too.

RE: there you go folks
By themaster08 on 10/30/2010 4:45:30 AM , Rating: 3
It's similar to women really....

Would you prefer a hot bombshell that's good at the secks, but only likes it a certain way.... or would you prefer a woman that's not quite as good looking, that can do the cooking, cleaning and is up for anything?

RE: there you go folks
By michael2k on 10/31/2010 4:08:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not certain the iPhone is so limited.

RE: there you go folks
By aegisofrime on 10/30/2010 10:10:57 AM , Rating: 2
I own an iPhone. There, I said it.

Does it mean I'm stupid? Before you give a resounding "Yes!", allow me to defend myself.

Firstly, I like to think that I'm brand neutral. I don't care if HTC uses human baby bones to make it's phones, or Apple uses cat blood to make LCD screens. I care about price vs performance.

That said, iPhones aren't perfect. But neither is Android. I bought my 3GS when the latest and greatest Android phone was the HTC Hero. I tried it and wasn't really impressed by it. FWIW, I was using a Samsung Omnia II at that time.

What do I like about the iPhone? I like the screen (one of the better ones at that time, before Super AMOLED came along). I liked the wide selection of apps. I like that I will very possibly get software updates until my phone contract expires and I get a new phone.

I hate that I have to jailbreak to get the optimum user experience. Apple should give users that choice.

My main concern with Android was that I'm totally at the mercy of the manufacturer with regards to receiving updates. I'm sure that you will agree with me that with smartphones, OS updates are critical.

My concern is not without reason. Sony just released the 2.1 update yesterday when phones commonly launch with 2.1 and 2.2 today. The HTC Hero waited 6 months IIRC before getting 2.1. With so many phones in Samsung's portfolio, I wonder how quick will they be with updates.

Of course, things have changed now. Android is much better, and given a choice between the Galaxy S and the iPhone 4 I will probably take the Galaxy S. But I would like you to appreciate that not every iPhone user made that choice blindly like a sheep.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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