Yesterday, Gartner released its Q3 2010 mobile and smartphone sales data, and the results show particularly strong gains for Android-based devices and Apple's iPhone.
In the third quarter of 2010, worldwide mobile phone sales rose 35 percent over the same quarter last year, with a total of 417 million units sold. Smartphone sales continued their meteoric growth, with a 96 percent increase over the same period last year, accounting for 19.3 percent of all mobile phone sales in Q3.
“This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales. Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android while Android volumes also grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide.” said Carolina Milanesi, VP of research at Gartner. The quarter marked the third consecutive double-digit increase in sales year-on-year.
In all, nearly 81 million smartphones were sold last quarter. Android made up slightly more than a quarter of all smartphone sales worldwide, with 20.5 million units sold, positioning it as the second-most popular operating system behind Symbian, which moved nearly 30 million units. In the same quarter last year, only 1.4 million Android-based devices were sold.
Android was particularly dominant in North America, where Gartner estimates it made up 75 to 80 percent of all of Verizon's smartphone sales. It was also bolstered by the launch of the multi-carrier Galaxy S line from Samsung. Gartner also noted that the OS's move into low- to mid-level devices helped it globally. This tactic could continue in the U.S. with Android's coming holiday spree.
Apple also did considerably well, thanks to the iPhone 4. Not only did Apple surpass RIM globally with almost 13.5 million units sold to RIM's 11.9 million -- putting it in third place behind Android -- it also jumped ahead of the Blackberry manufacturer in the important U.S. market. Apple is now second only to Android in the U.S., and third in Europe (still behind Nokia and Samsung).
“Smartphone OS providers have entered a period of accelerated platform evolution, stimulated by more regular product releases, new platform entrants and new device types,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Any platform that fails to innovate quickly — either through a vibrant multi-player ecosystem or clear vision of a single controlling entity — will lose developers, manufacturers, potential partners and ultimately users.” (Perhaps a veiled reference to RIM?)
Rounding out total mobile market, Nokia held on to its top spot, moving 117.5 million units in the quarter, but saw a market share decline of 8.5 percentage points over the same period last year. This was mostly caused by components shortages that affected the stock of low-end devices, which forced consumers to buy higher-end one instead. This resulted in better-than-expected financial results for the Finnish mobile company.
Samsung came in second globally, but was nearly 50 million units behind Nokia with a total of 71.7 million units (up 18.2 percent), and LG was even further behind with 27.5 million (down 6.6 percent).
The most impressive feat in the mobile market was the appearance of Apple in the top five manufacturers. Its 13.5 million units landed it in fourth place, ahead of RIM. Gartner posits that it could have sold more, but was hampered by ongoing supply constraints. The firm also noted that enterprise adoption of the iPhone and iPad has grown, despite Apple's focus on individual consumers.
Looking forward, Gartner expects 2011 to be a big year for media tablets like Apple's iPad. It projects nearly 55 million tablet devices to be sold next year. It also predicts that it will be another big year for Apple, in general. “To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and to a lesser extent the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity. While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS's multi-device presence," Milanesi said. "Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average — that's a compelling market for any developer. And developers' applications in turn attract users.”
quote: I think the next year will be the year that decides it, if Apple's share continues to drop, especially if it goes below 15%, they are in some serious trouble.
quote: Success in the smart phone market has become about attracting app developers as much as anything, and if there are 2x as many Android devices as Apple, they're going to have trouble attracting the developers they need. It's not impossible (but not particularly likely) that they could lose critical mass within the next year and see their sales drop massively.