Nokia mobile market share slips to its lowest in 14 years

According to the latest report from Gartner, end users worldwide bought a total of 427.8 million phones in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 19 percent from the same time last year.

Smartphones dominate over the rest of the market, accounting for 23.6 percent of overall sales in the first quarter of 2011. This has been an increase of 85 percent year-on-year.

Gartner points out the figure could have been higher if manufacturers had shipped their announced Q1 devices, as many consumers are waiting for the shiny new models to hit the market rather than buy into technology with a short shelf life.

Nevertheless. that didn’t stop the big brands raking it in – with Samsung experiencing its strongest first quarter ever.

The Galaxy line continued to be a resounding success, where demand also helped offset an increase in materials costs.

Samsung’s success also lies in its numerous product announcements during the first quarter of 2011, notably the Galaxy smartphone announcements, its Wave 578, and the new models of the Galaxy Tab.

It seems Samsung will continue to ride on the success of these products into the second quarter. 

Apple unsurprisingly did well in the quarter, selling 16.9 million units and doubling its sales of iPhones year-on-year. This, Gartner said, was down to the iPhone being available in 90 countries.

Also recording a very strong first quarter, with 9.3 million mobile communication devices sold, was HTC, which moved into the seventh position as a result of its success. 

Strong high-end products also helped the company do well with all major US retailers, and in the first quarter of 2011 it became the number two smartphone manufacturer in the region, overtaking Research In Motion.

Android and Apple still rule the roost with operating systems.

Gartner highlights that big news on Nokia’s “strategic alliance” with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7, and the retirement of Symbian.

“This will precipitate a competitors’ rush to capture Symbian’s market share in the midtier,” it said.

Nokia’s share in the mobile phone market dropped to 25 percent in the first quarter of this year, a drop from the 30.6 percent at the same time last year. That’s the lowest it has been in the market for 14 years.