Global mobile phone market does well in Q2

The global mobile phone market has continued to improve through the second quarter of 2010 according to IDC and this has been driven primarily through smartphones.

In its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the analyst company said: “Lower smartphone average selling prices, increased consumer interest, and aggressive expansion plans on the part of key suppliers will keep the device type growing above market growth rate.”

It said that mobile phone vendors shipped a total of 317.5 million units during 2Q10, up 14.5 percent from the 277.2 million units shipped during the second quarter of 2009.

The first half of 2010 was also successful with mobile phone shipments totalling 620.6 million units, up 18.5 percent from the 523.5 million units shipped during the first half of 2009.

And it seems companies offering lower priced phones are doing well too, with IDC pinpointing traditional mobile phone makers and brand owners, such as ZTE, as gaining share due to higher volumes of lower-cost models, which are increasingly popular with wireless service providers.

The company also said that mobile phone sales would continue to grow especially in regions such as Latin America and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan). “Lower smartphone average selling prices increased consumer interest, and aggressive expansion plans on the part of key suppliers will keep the device type growing above market growth rate.”

During the second quarter, the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region was in part driven by low-cost phones. The company said that while these phones were often produced by manufacturers in China, they were branded locally, and had growing impact on emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Smartphones for the region outpaced the overall market, with a major spike in the Korean market. However, the company pointed out that in Japan, the absence of operator subsidies has kept mobile phone shipments down for smartphones and traditional mobile phones.  

The Western European market grew due in large part to higher smartphone sales, price cuts to models and new product introductions.

All phone vendors increased smartphone sales, with those offering the Android operating system doing “particularly well”.

However, as shiny new tech was on the rise, traditional mobile phones suffered.  

Subscriber growth in the Middle East and Africa also meant mobile phone sales grew in this region with smartphones benefiting as a  result of price cuts to Nokia models and the introduction of cheaper smartphone models. Among traditional mobile phones, Nokia faced more competition as Samsung took its share away thanks to its entry level models.

The story was similar in America, with smartphones taking the “most wanted” crown. The main accelerator here was Apple’s iPhone 4, HTC’s Droid Incredible and the EVO 4G. Smartphone growth was also apparent in Canada, where Android-powered smartphones, including Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 and Motorola’s Quench, DEXT, and BackFlip arrived on the market.

However, traditional mobile phones also stood their ground, which the company said was due to manufacturer and vendor discounts.

And despite Nokia reporting poor performance results for this quarter,  IDC pinpointed the company as the overall mobile phone market leader during the quarter, with total shipments exceeding those of the the second and third vendors combined. However, IDC also said Nokia had faced challenges in the high-end of the smartphone market. Second place Samsung experienced strong year-on-year growth, thanks to its touchscreen devices in the US. At the same time, the combination of soft demand in Europe, late launches of key smartphone models, and product mix adjustments resulted in revenue and profit decline for the quarter.

LG came in third place, which IDC said was as a result of the launch of two Android-powered smartphones – the Ally and the Optimus Q – as well as continued success in the traditional mobile phone market.

Research In Motion posted the highest year-over-year gain (40 percent) of all the top five vendors, a feat accomplished by its singular focus on the smartphone market. The company shipped its 100 millionth BlackBerry device last quarter – it also launched the BlackBerry Pearl 3G and the BlackBerry Bold 9650.

Sony Ericsson came fifth despite its shipments being down by 20.3 percent. However, it scraped in thanks to the launch of several Android-powered high-end smartphones – the Xperia X10, X10 mini, and the X10 mini pro.

Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, said: “Companies with a strict focus on the smartphone market, like RIM, Apple, and HTC have clearly benefited from steadily increasing user interest. But it’s not just smartphone vendors that have driven the market forward – it’s also the companies with a presence among entry-level handsets and mid-range devices, which have long been the domain of the worldwide leaders.

“To dismiss the worldwide leaders would be a mistake,” added Llamas. “Each currently enjoys broad distribution, a deep portfolio, and brand recognition. Moreover, each is in the midst of refreshing its respective product portfolio, with greater emphasis on smartphones during the second half of this year. Still, the upward pressure from vendors outside the current top five vendors, particularly Apple and Motorola, will provide tough competition in the quarters to come.”